DDA shock: one dog dies every week in Met area
A FREEDOM of Information (FOI) request, submitted by a member of the Pet Owners Parliament, has revealed the shocking fact that a total of sixty dogs have died while under the care of the Metropolitan police force in little over a year.
Figures released last month show that on average, the Metropolitan Police seized one dog each day under the Dangerous Dogs Act between April 2007 and 23rd May 2008 and an average of one in every seven dogs held - or one dog each week - died during their time in kennels. The FOI reply also revealed that the ‘majority’ of these deaths were from illnesses, although specific statistics on causes of death are not kept.
With forces around the country being advised to enforce current canine legislation, in particular the Dangerous Dogs Act, the number of dogs incarcerated in police appointed kennels, while being denied access to their owners, has and is expected to continue to climb rapidly. While DEFRA and te Government demand dogs fitting a particular look, regardless of whether they pose a danger to the public or not, are removed from their families, it appears the seizure of dogs is causing serious welfare implications.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to allow or cause any animal to suffer unnecessarily by way of an action or failure to act. When holding large numbers of dogs, surely the issue of infectious diseases must be important, yet seized dogs are often taken without any details regarding current health status, ongoing treatment or whether basic vaccinations are up to date. Questions are being asked as to whether this amounts to a breach under the Act as a failure to act.
Dr Roger Mugford, renowned animal behaviourist, has grave concerns regarding the welfare of seized dogs. When shown the figures recently obtained Dr Mugford said: ‘Gandhi said: ‘Judge a nation by how it treats its animals.’ At present, terrible cruelty is being inflicted upon mostly innocent dogs and their distraught families, in the name of a law which the Chief Constable of North Wales recently described as ‘stupid’ breed specific legislation. By allowing these crimes, Britain undermines its claim to being a civilised society, and certainly has lost its reputation as being a nation of animal lovers.’
Once a dog is seized, it’s owners, who are best placed to recognise the first signs of illness in their pets, are denied all contact with their dogs; many dogs are known not to cope with the long term detainment in a kennel situation. The dogs can be held for months or even years awaiting legal outcomes to determine whether they are destroyed or returned to their owners. Veterinary records of examinations and treatments during the dog’s incarceration are not routinely handed to owners on the dog’s return.
Glynis Walker, whose pet dog Kodee spent four months under the care of the Met. Police, states she was told when reunited with her dog that he had received ‘everything’ in regard of treatment. However she was shocked with the condition that Kodee was returned home in and described him as thin with round worm, smelling of excrement, with cuts to his nose and head; however he makes up no statistics as he survived his ordeal. The Walker family have lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.