Adverts: 0161 709 4576 - Editorial: 0161 709 4571
Mail Order: 0161 709 4578 - Subs: 0161 709 4575 - Webteam: 0161 709 4567
Minister calls on dog warden

Bradford Dog Warden Terry Singh
using his nationally respected expert knowledge to restrain a Japanese Akita

HOME OFFICE Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has called for Bradford's senior Dog Warden to be appointed to a national panel of experts re-examining the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus newspaper reported that Bradford South MP Mr Sutcliffe said that Terry Singh, Bradford Council's Dog Warden Manager, should be included because of his ‘high level of expertise’. Mr Sutcliffe said as a Home Office Minister he had been asked by the Home Secretary John Reid to look into the issues surrounding dangerous dogs.

He said: ‘I will be calling on the expertise of Terry Singh because he is respected nationally for his knowledge. I would like to see him utilised on the expert panel because I think we can benefit greatly from his knowledge.’

The Dog Legislation Advisory Group (DLAG) is currently conducting a review of dog laws for DEFRA. However, when five-month-old baby Cadey-Lee Deacon was killed by two Rottweilers that had been used as guard dogs, the media started reporting dog attacks en masse, putting further pressure on the Group. Home Secretary John Reid refrained from making any knee-jerk reactions to upgrading the flawed Dangerous Dogs Act or adding Rottweilers to the list of ‘banned’ breeds, but asked that Mr Sutcliffe liaise with DEFRA and DLAG and report back to him on their findings and recommendations.

A DEFRA spokesman commented at the time: ‘There are no plans to amend dangerous dogs legislation but we are discussing with the Home Office any possible gaps in the law where dogs are used as a weapon to deliberately attack someone. However, we do not believe there is any need to significantly alter the current legislation which we believe has had a dramatic effect in protecting people from dog attacks and are confident that it has helped prevent many serious injuries.’

Terry Singh, who has been a dog warden in Bradford for close on 20 years said: ‘I am delighted to hear that I could be invited to take a place on DEFRA's advisory panel to contribute to the debate on stray and dangerous dogs.

Bradford's Dog Warden Service is respected by many local authorities and animal welfare groups for the work it has done in the past and we have been at the forefront of the campaign for laws to control dangerous dogs. I hope this move will speed up the need to introduce compulsory dog identification to help combat irresponsible dog ownership.’

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, the Council's executive member for environment and culture, said:

‘This is an acknowledgement of the efforts that have been put in by Bradford Council from all parties in order to rectify loopholes that we see in the legislation.’

The Telegraph & Argus newspaper started its ‘Curb the Danger Dogs Campaign’ last month and has been urging people to sign up to a petition which will be presented to Mr Reid. The newspaper aims to persuade the Government to make the following changes to the law:

It would also like to see the introduction of a compulsory registration scheme for all dogs to help establish a register for dangerous dogs and enable them to be monitored and permanent compulsory microchipping of all dogs. Also mentioned are lifetime bans on owners of ‘dangerous’ dogs, an accurate register of owners and their dogs and the introduction of a fixed penalty notice for those who allow their dogs to stray

Mr Sutcliffe said he had great sympathy with the campaign and its objectives, he said: ‘Given the high-profile attacks by dogs recently I think it is a subject many people feel strongly about. I have been concerned for a long period of time that, while some people want dogs for security reasons that those dogs should be kept under secure conditions to prevent them attacking people.’

It is understood that DLAG have made no move to include Mr Singh onto their panel, despite his ‘nationally respected great knowledge’. Meanwhile, the group is due to meet for again on Tuesday October 23rd, at which time they will present their agreed findings to the Government.

Phil Buckley, External Affairs Manager for the Kennel Club and a member of DLAG commented: ‘The Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group will be meeting on the 23rd October. The meeting is being hosted by the Kennel Club and chaired by Superintendent Ovens from the Metropolitan Police Service. Other organisations attending include the Dogs Trust, RSPCA, BVA and RCVS.

After the meeting Government will be approached with a view to amending the legislation to better protect the public, responsible owners and their dogs.’