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DEFRA slow in tackling the problems of dangerous and stray dog population

In April 2012 DEFRA launched their 'tackling irresponsible dog ownership' consultation. The consultation closed on 15th June 2012. According to the DEFRA website, they aim to publish the results of consultations within 3 months of the closing date. However, 7 months later on, the general public and animal welfare arena alike are still awaiting the long overdue results.

If that was not bad enough, the consultation itself was flawed from the outset, as it failed to address a crucial factor in determining a vital element in the problems surrounding dangerous dogs and the UK dog population that currently exist - THE SOURCE. Instead their focus was on micro-chipping as a panacea for dangerous dogs. Naturewatch believes that micro-chipping alone will have little impact on the existing cruelty to dogs by irresponsible owners. Nor will it satisfactorily address the issue of dog bites. We believe also that it will do little to address the overpopulation crisis in rehoming centres.

Despite the fact that many councils and indeed animal shelters are bursting to capacity, the government is demonstrating a lack of motivation to actually deal with the problems. Instead, they hide behind the apron strings of committees made up of leading experts, which they claim to take advice from. These committees do just that, they advise. They have no regulatory authority and have little or no budgetary funding to carry out their recommendations. In theory, DEFRA could do well in heeding the advice from these committees, but in reality they only serve as a smoke screen, allowing DEFRA to employ delaying tactics, sit back on their laurels and take no purposeful action.

DEFRA need to face up to their responsibilities:

The time for DEFRA to face up to their responsibilities is long overdue.

  • There needs to be an immediate review of dog breeding legislation in order to   reduce the number of litters that trigger the necessity for a dog breeding licence.
  • There needs to be regulation put into place to control the sale of dogs in newspapers and over the Internet.
  • The current legislation negates the need for so called 'hobby breeders' - those that produce four or less litters of puppies a year, to require a licence. Without a reduction to two litters of puppies, these breeders, and indeed many back yard breeders the length and breadth of the UK, are churning out puppies - with little or no regard for their welfare, and making vast amounts of money - tax free!
  • In many cases, it is the UK tax payers that are ultimately funding the maintenance of many of the dogs that end up in the council care. That is, until the unlucky ones end up on the vets table facing euthanasia which again, in many cases, is at the expense of the tax payer.

With DEFRAs current track record with regard to their U-turns on the Woodland sell off and the proposed Badger cull is it little wonder that we are awaiting the results of the consultation with little enthusiasm. When they tried to sell our woodlands, which we own, back to us, and they tried to instigate a cull of badgers, without knowing the true count of the badger population, we could be forgiven for doubting their ability to address the true issues surrounding dangerous dogs and the UK dog population.

It is time for DEFRA to step up to the mark. They should address these issues without delay. They should start taking positives steps to meet their responsibilities to the animals. They are, after all, the governing body that ultimately has the power to make realistic changes and improvements that would not only benefit the citizens of the UK but, more importantly, benefit those that they are charged to protect, the animals themselves.