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Blue Cross calls on MPs to help scrap ‘killer law’ and save thousands of dogs like gentle Duncan

Blue Cross is calling on the Government to scrap ineffective and unfounded legislation which is resulting in the needless deaths of thousands of innocent dogs like Duncan ahead of a MPs inquiry into the Dangerous Dogs Act this week.

The national pet charity has launched a petition calling on the Parliamentary under-secretary at DEFRA Lord Gardiner to repeal Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ahead of an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee inquiry on Wednesday.

Under the current law, Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act forces vets around the country to euthanase thousands of innocent dogs like Duncan every year not because of their breeding or because they have shown any bad behaviour but simply based on ‘looking dangerous.’

The pet charity is among animal welfare charities and organisations who will be giving evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday, which will be looking at the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Since the legislation was introduced in 1991, figures show the number of hospital admissions for injuries caused by dogs in general is at its highest for a decade [i].

Blue Cross believes Section 1, often referred to as Breed Specific Legislation or BSL, of the Dangerous Dogs Act sees thousands of dogs like Duncan unjustifiably handed an automatic death sentence based solely on looks alone.

Crossbreed Duncan was much loved by staff at Blue Cross Victoria hospital who treated him when he came in as a poorly and emaciated stray in February 2017.

Duncan when he arrived at Blue Cross pet charity's hospital in Victoria, London
Duncan was emaciated when he arrived as a stray at Blue Cross animal hospital in Victoria, London.

Blue Cross was legally bound to inform the local authority that two-year-old Duncan was in their care, as with all stray dogs. Duncan was then sadly typed as Section 1. Stray dogs who are typed as Section 1 by police dog legislation officers cannot be rehomed by law and all rehoming charities are legally obliged to euthanase despite their views that a dog could be safely and happily rehomed.

A Blue Cross Animal Welfare Officer said: “Duncan was in such a sorry state when he came into us. He was skin and bone - you could see his ribs. He also had a really bad infection and sores on his legs. He’d clearly never known a loving home and sadly we were unable to go on to help him have a happy ever after as we would with any other dog.

“He was loved by everyone who knew and treated him here at the hospital. We found him to be a gentle giant and well behaved. He knew his basic commands and was eager to learn more.  We could have easily helped him to find a new loving home.

“Sadly we see loving and well-behaved dogs like Duncan all too often who have not put a paw out of place and would make someone a fantastic pet but because of the current law our hands are tied and they are not given the chance to live.

“It is heart-breaking and extremely frustrating for all involved and often leaves a dark cloud over the hospital each time we have to euthanase an otherwise healthy pet because the law states their looks deem them dangerous.”

Duncan was described as a gentle and loving dog by all the team at Blue Cross Victoria

Blue Cross believes the law places too much focus on what a dog looks like and is failing to protect the public from irresponsible dog owners.

Steve Goody, Blue Cross deputy chief executive, said: “There is no evidence to suggest dogs that are currently banned types are more likely to show aggression than any other dog. Any dog can show aggression if it incorrectly trained or badly treated. No dog can be assessed on looks alone.

“Cases like Duncan’s have a devastating emotional impact on our hardworking team who are forced unjustifiably to put a healthy dog to death.

“The years following the implementation of the Dangerous Dogs Act have shown that vilifying certain breeds of dog does not serve to reduce the number of dog attacks.

“If we are to see any immediate progress we must focus our efforts on educating dog owners about their responsibilities and crack down on those who ignore this advice and use dog ownership for illegal and irresponsible purposes. Responsible dog owners understand the importance of careful breeding, early socialisation and training.”

Members of the public can sign our petition calling for Section 1 of the Dangerous Dog Act to be repealed at www.bluecross.org.uk/endBSL

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] Between March 2005 and February 2015 the number of hospital admissions due to dog bites in England increased 76% from 4,110 to 7,227, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre

  • Hi-res pictures and video of Duncan available. Please contact the Blue Cross press office.
  • Blue Cross is a national charity that has been helping sick, injured, abandoned and homeless pets for over 120 years. We help thousands of pets in need every month by providing veterinary care, expert behaviour help and find them loving homes. We also offer education for current and future pet owners plus pet bereavement support for those who have lost their pet companion. Pets help us in so many ways and they depend entirely on us, with your support we can give back to more pets in need. Pets change lives. We change theirs.
  • For more information visit bluecross.org.uk

Media contact

Emma Sword, media officer: 020 7932 4063 / [email protected]

Media team: 0300 777 1950 / [email protected]