On 12 August 1991, the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force, banning four types of dog. We were told it would prevent dog attacks, but twenty-five years on, injuries caused to humans by dogs are at an all-time high and pet dogs are killed every month simply because of how they look…
“He is the most affectionate dog I’ve ever had. He’d get under your skin if he could,” says Jo-Rosie Haffenden of her beloved pet Archie. “He loves to snuggle up at night and just wants to puts his paws around you.
“But I once had a guy shout at me in a train station, ‘You shouldn’t have that type of dog, they’re dangerous’, which was quite intimidating.”
Eight-year-old Archie is a pitbull type. Under the eyes of the law, his looks make him ‘dangerous’, but in reality he is no more a threat to society than any other dog of any other breed. Despite suffering unimaginable cruelty in his past, Archie has a wonderful temperament, is well trained, and has a devoted and responsible owner who loves him and makes sure he is a well-adjusted member of society – just as she does with her other three dogs, none of whom are illegal types.
Section one of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) outlaws four types of dog; the pitbull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino, and fila Brasilerio. The law makes it illegal to own, sell, breed, give away or abandon one of these types of dog.
This is often referred to as ‘breed specific legislation’, or ‘BSL’, but actually the law doesn’t recognise a dog’s family tree, or pedigree.
Instead, UK legislation bases the decision on whether a dog is illegal on looks alone – a dog’s breed, a dog’s parents’ breeds, DNA testing and behaviour don’t come into it.