Many thanks to those who have contacted me about Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).
I understand the strength of feeling on all sides when discussing this legislation. As you are aware, the Dangerous Dogs Act, of which BSL is a part, prohibits four types of fighting dog for public safety reasons. Ministers agree with police advice that the ban should remain in place.
It is important to emphasise that not all banned dogs are destroyed as part of the BSL. I know that if a court decides that the owner is a fit and proper person and the dog presents no danger to public safety, the dog can be kept under strict conditions, for example muzzled and on a lead in public. It is also placed on an index of exempted dogs. I believe this is an appropriate approach when determining whether a dog can be safely exempted. I am aware that there are currently around 3,700 dogs where a court has granted an exemption and allowed them to stay with their owner.
I agree that dogs should not spend long periods of time in kennels while any court case takes place, but this must be balanced with the threat to public safety posed by the dog. Where the relevant Chief Officer of Police is satisfied about the dog’s temperament, and suitability of owner, a seized suspected prohibited dog can be released back to the owner while the court case is waiting to be heard.
In 2018, a Parliamentary Committee conducted a review into controlling dangerous dogs. The report made a series of recommendations to improve dog ownership and reduce dog attacks, and the Government has responded positively to these suggestions. Ministers have now commissioned research by Middlesex University into dog attacks which will consider different approaches and the effectiveness of current dog control measures. It will also seek to identify and examine the factors and situations that may cause dog attacks. The report is currently being peer reviewed and will be finalised in light of peer review comments. I understand that the intention is to publish the final report later this year.
I will continue to monitor the situation. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.