Dangerous dog figures disclosed

Witney Gazette: Animal charities have called for "drastic changes" to dangerous dog laws ahead of changes set to be enforced on Tuesday Animal charities have called for "drastic changes" to dangerous dog laws ahead of changes set to be enforced on Tuesday

Hundreds of dangerous dogs were destroyed last year after being seized by police, new figures have shown.

Some of the country's biggest forces reported a rise in the number of dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act, including banned breeds and those which attacked people and other pets.

Animal charities have called for "drastic changes" to dangerous dog laws ahead of changes set to be enforced on Tuesday, which will make it possible for owners to be prosecuted for dog attacks on private property.

It follows the death of 14-year-old Jade Anderson who was savaged by four dogs - believed to be two bull mastiffs and two Staffordshire bull terriers - as she was visiting the home of a friend near Wigan, Greater Manchester, in March last year.

Freedom of Information (FOI) responses obtained by the Press Association from police forces in England, Wales and Scotland found a number of forces recorded a rise in how many dangerous dogs they seized.

The country's second largest force, West Midlands Police, revealed the number of dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act had risen by 50% compared with 2011.

The force seized 412 dogs in 2013, up from 360 in 2012 and 275 in 2011.

A total of 181 dangerous dogs were destroyed last year, compared with 159 in 2012 and 138 in 2011, West Midlands Police said.

Elsewhere, Lancashire, Avon and Somerset, Surrey, South Wales, North Wales, Warwickshire, Cleveland and Gwent Police all reported a rise in the number of dangerous dogs seized last year.

However Scotland Yard revealed a fall in the number of dangerous dogs seized last year. Britain's biggest force said 585 dogs were seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act in 2013 and 95 were destroyed.

This compared with 777 dangerous dogs seized and 103 destroyed in 2012, while in 2011, 499 dogs were seized and 110 were destroyed.

Greater Manchester Police said it seized 198 dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act in 2013, compared with 203 in 2012 and 190 in 2011.

Sixty dangerous dogs were destroyed in 2013, compared with 66 in 2011 and 85 in 2011, GMP said.

Breeds banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act include any pitbull types, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro and Dogo Argentino.

Dogs Trust said it had been arguing for "drastic changes" in dangerous dog laws and claimed other legislation did not go far enough to tackle irresponsible dog owners.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "We do not consider breed specific legislation to be effective and would like to see it repealed.

" We have become increasingly aware of the issues caused by 'problem' dogs or, more accurately, their problem owners.

"We believe that, in many cases, dangerous dogs are a social issue, rather than exclusively a 'dog' problem.

"Crucially, non-legislative interventions to influence irresponsible owners and better educate the public are needed.

"Dogs Trust is encouraged by the Government's commitment to improving dog control legislation. However, the charity does not believe that the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act goes far enough in tackling the various problems surrounding irresponsible ownership in the UK.

"There is a clear need for a fundamental overhaul of dog legislation."

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: "The RSPCA is opposed to breed specific legislation. As an animal welfare charity we believe the law needs to focus on the actions of the owners at the root of the problem, rather than the types of dog.

"To focus on a specific breed or type of dog is to miss the problem itself. You can only legislate for the actions or inactions of humans (the owners) and not the dog."

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) declined to comment ahead of upcoming changes to dangerous dog legislation.

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