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microchipping and dog attacks
« on: April 25, 2012, 08:46:39 AM »
Dog Wardens Comment on Microchipping Proposals

Posted: 24 Apr 2012 02:39 AM PDT

The National Dog Warden Association is the latest organisation to speak out about the recent Government proposals for compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England. In a statement, the NDWA says:
Whilst NDWA welcomes the government announcement on proposed ways to deal with irresponsible dog ownership in its many forms, it is extremely disappointed that yet again the end result is another consultation process by DEFRA rather than decisive action.

NDWA has stated elsewhere that the government was wrong to intermingle ‘dangerous dog’s’ and stray dogs as a single issue, confusion on what a ‘dangerous dog’ is has clouded public perception and has helped to create a misleading image that microchipping will help reduce the number of dog attacks.

Further confusion has arisen in the belief that a microchip will identify a dog to an owner, ask a Local Authority Dog Warden (if there are any left at your local council) how many stray dogs that are microchipped have up to date details or perhaps the microchip has not been registered, a figure of around a 40% failure rate is not uncommon.  There would need to be legislation that placed responsibility for a dog with the person or organisation that bred it, sold it or re-homed it, much in the same way that the DVLA places responsibility on the previous owner of a car if the log book has not been signed over to the new owner.

Microchipping as an aid to animal welfare and the swift reunification of dogs with owners is welcomed by NDWA but there are far too many unanswered questions that require addressing, a major one being, if it becomes mandatory that a dog is implanted with a microchip, who is responsible for enforcing non-compliance?   Many Local Authorities have reduced the traditional Dog Warden Service that offered dog control through a combination of education and enforcement.  If the dog control aspect of the person responsible for dealing with dogs at a council is a secondary one, when will there be time to carry out enforcement of a law that requires dogs to be implanted?

NDWA worked with partners from the RSPCA, ACPO, CIEH and LGA to produce simplified legislation that would enable the primary enforcement agencies, prohibited breed’s and dogs dangerously out of control (The Police), stray dogs and minor dog related issues (Local Authorities) the tools to protect public safety and promote responsible dog ownership.

The amount of money set aside by the government for Local Authorities, charities and local groups to promote responsible dog ownership £50,000 is frankly risible, if there are 326 Local Authorities in England that have a statutory duty to deal with stray dogs, this amounts to approximately £1,533 per council, how much printing will this buy?  Would this money actually be ‘ring-fenced’ or would it go straight in to the general council fund?

NDWA President Susan Bell said:

‘Any consultation process needs to address the issue of inadequately funded Dog Warden Services, the whole ethos of the NDWA is the promotion of responsible dog ownership through a combination of education and enforcement.  Without competent Dog Warden Services  there will be no positive promotion of responsible dog ownership in England.’

Dog Wardens Comment on Microchipping Proposals is a post from: My Dog Magazine

     
Compulsory Microchips Fall Short on Dangerous Dog Owner Problem

Posted: 23 Apr 2012 11:50 PM PDT

The Government has wasted the best opportunity to tackle irresponsible dog ownership in more than 20 years, claimed the RSPCA today.

The country’s biggest animal welfare charity has accused Defra of ignoring the advice of the country’s dog law enforcement agencies, and instead launching yet another unnecessary consultation.

The RSPCA’s believes the coalition has broken its promise, set out in its ‘programme for government’, to “promote responsible pet ownership” and that it “will ensure that enforcement agencies target irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs.”1

An extension of the law to cover private property, as well as public land, is a step in the right direction. However, along with compulsory microchipping of puppies, it is a purely reactionary measure that fails to prevent dog bites and attacks from happening in the first place.

The RSPCA also fear suggestions of an increase in the fee to have dogs put on the exempted register from £24 to more than £70 could lead to more people choosing instead to have their dog put to sleep rather than pay costs of up to an estimated £850 for it to be exempted.2

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “Britain’s dogs deserve better. Too many are abandoned and abused, demonised and dumped. All owners need to be accountable to their dogs, the irresponsible deterred and the abusive prosecuted. That is the approach we need to take. These proposals need to go a lot further to achieve that.

“It has been 21 years since the disastrous Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced. After years of watching the problem of irresponsible dog ownership spiral, this was the perfect chance for the current Government to make huge strides forward for dog welfare. Instead they have taken only the smallest steps and merely tinkered with a piece legislation that many people widely acknowledge is one of the biggest failures of modern politics.

“These measures not only lack bite, they raise major questions about how exactly they expect to effectively tackle the danger of irresponsible ownership to both people and animals.

“Animal rescue centres are filled to breaking point with unwanted, neglected and cruelly treated dogs. Irresponsible owners are continuing to make money from breeding dogs with little care for their health or welfare. Meanwhile, people continue to be put at risk of being attacked or injured by out of control dogs and their irresponsible owners.

“The proposals set out by the Government in Westminster today do not appear to fundamentally address these growing problems of irresponsible dog ownership.

The RSPCA aren’t alone in expressing frustration at the Government’s proposals. The Dogs Trust was also unhappy and expressed disappointment and frustration that the Written Ministerial Statement on tackling irresponsible dog ownership failed to effectively address two elements that the charity believes are vital to successful policy in this area – compulsory microchipping of all dogs to connect owners with their dogs and preventative measures to reduce the number of dog attacks.

The announcement, which Dogs Trust believes will provide an outline for the government’s future proposals on dangerous dog law, has been long awaited and the charity had hoped that it would signal some significant and effective changes to dangerous dog legislation. It has taken over twenty years of campaigning to get the government to attempt to redress the mistakes that were made by rushing the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 through Parliament.

Dogs Trust believes that compulsory microchipping of all dogs should form a central part of any future policy on tackling irresponsible dog ownership. Microchipping will not prevent attacks but the charity believes that it is the most effective way to link a dog to its owner and to make irresponsible owners accountable for the actions of their dog. Microchipping all puppies is a step in the right direction but will mean that the effectiveness of any policy will be delayed by upwards of 10 years. Dogs Trust research shows that 83% of the UK population believe all dogs should be microchipped – it is hard to understand why government is so reluctant to take this step.

The charity is also concerned that this consultation makes little provision for the prevention of dog attacks. We would like to see the government identify ways to deal with irresponsible owners before an attack takes place, which could take the form of Dog Control Notices to keep dogs on a lead or muzzled in public places where necessary.

Dogs Trust does, however, welcome an extension of the law to private property as this would send a strong signal to owners who fail to keep their dogs under control that they could now face the full force of the law. The charity believes that the most severe attacks should be considered a criminal matter, while minor incidents should continue to be dealt with as a civil matter by the courts under the Dogs Act 1871, but with a power of compensation for the victims of dog attacks.

And finally, in the absence of a repeal of breed specific legislation, Dogs Trust would like new provisions to be introduced that would better improve welfare for dogs that could be deemed to be of ‘type’ by allowing responsible owners to make applications to Court for their dog to be registered and for Magistrates to be given a new power to allow a dog to be returned home on ‘bail’ pending a case being concluded.

Clarissa Baldwin, CEO of Dogs Trust, says:

“The Government has spent a great deal of time examining this legislation since it came to power and whilst we accept DEFRA has done their best to look at this issue, unfortunately, their best is no where near good enough. Not good enough to better protect the public or good enough to improve animal welfare.

“Government must tackle this problem head on with completely new legislation rather than just tinkering around the edges. We’re extremely disillusioned that there is nothing in the consultation on measures that will actually help to prevent dog attacks, which is surely what the aim of these proposals should be. We seem to be waltzing along on this issue rather than the quick step we need to meaningful reform.
 
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