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DEFRA leaflet was compiled by the RSPCA and police

DEFRA MINISTER Elliot Morley’s comments regarding the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act during last week’s Dog Welfare adjournment debate have been seized upon by anti-DDA campaigners for several reasons, not least of which being his reference to a leaflet to be published by DEFRA at the end of April "…to assist enforcement agencies, as well as those whose work may bring them into contact with dogs, with guidelines on identification to help them to deal with some of the problems…"

OUR DOGS contacted a number of acknowledged dog breed experts and also the Kennel Club to enquire whether their input had been sought by DEFRA in the compilation of the leflet. It came as no surprise to learn that no experts had been approached in this regard.

OUR DOGS the contacted DEFRA to ask which experts had provided input into the leaflet. A DEFRA spokesperson commented: "A draft guidance leaflet has been produced, following consultation with the RSPCA and the Metropolitan police, a copy of which will be forwarded to the Kennel Club for their comments before publication."

It will, of course, be noted that the RSPCA pulled out of any involvement with the DDA in 1993, due to the public backlash against certain RSPCA Officers giving ‘expert’ evidence for the prosecution, which invariably ended with orders for the mandatory destruction of any dog found ‘guilty’ of being a pit bull ‘type’ under the DDA.

When the RSPCA press office were asked on Monday of this week about the society’s involvement with the leaflet, no-one was aware of this fact, least of all the RSPCA’s Director of Veterinary Services, Chris Laurence who had in fact attended a meeting of the Dog Legislation Advisory Group (DLAG) at the Kennel Club that same day where the leaflet and its then unknown origins was discussed.

DEFRA confirmed that they had consulted with the Prosecutions Department of the RSPCA and, crucially, with former Director General Peter Davies.

Further enquiries were made within the RSPCA by the press office on Tuesday, and a spokesperson later told OUR DOGS: "We received a draft of this leaflet over a year ago. We were asked for any practical observations that we had on the text and were also asked for pictures to go with the leaflet but we were unable to provide any.

This has been our only involvement with the production of the leaflet."

Juliette Glass of the Fury Defence Fund commented: "It just goes to show that DEFRA, like the Home Office before them, have learnt nothing from all the problems incurred over the last 12 years on account of the DDA. The fact that they are seeking the so-called expert knowledge of police officers and RSPCA officials instead of acknowledged breed experts, such as Trevor Turner and John Branch indicates their obvious ignorance and disregard."