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Further call to amend the DDA

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request, submitted by a member of the Pet Owners Parliament (POP), the not for profit organisation set up by dog trainer Ryan O’Mara to ‘give a voice’ to pets and their owners, has revealed that a total of sixty dogs have died while under the care of the Metropolitan police force in little over a year while figures released earlier this week show that on average, the Met Police seized one dog each day under the Dangerous Dogs Act between April 2007 and 23rd May 2008. 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.

The POP say that with forces around the country being advised to enforce current canine legislation, 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. Government legislation demanding that dogs fitting a particular type, regardless of whether they pose a danger to the public or not, are removed from their families the seizure of dogs is causing increasingly 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. This legislation surely applies to police forces as well as the rest of the country and questions are being asked as to whether this amounts to a breach under the Act as a failure to act. Should the RSPCA consider prosecution?

The Pet Owners Parliament reports that Dr Roger Mugford, the well known animal behaviourist, has grave concerns regarding the welfare of seized dogs. When shown the figures recently obtained Dr Mugford said: ‘Gahndi said that you can judge a nation by how it treats its animals) and 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.’

The dogs can be held for months or even years awaiting legal outcomes to determine whether they are destroyed or returned to their owners and veterinary records of examinations and treatments during the dog’s incarceration are not routinely handed to owners on the dog’s return.

The Pet Owners Parliament say that the figures released show a clear need for change.