In my previous article ‘Dog Attacks and the Media Causing Hysteria‘ (View it here) I asked the public of their thoughts on these so-called ‘Dangerous Dogs’ and their thoughts on how the issue could be solved, whether it involves bringing in more regulations and/or legislations or providing more education. All of the responses were great and I much appreciate much of those thoughts given.
However I had one particularly interesting comment from Jan Eachus, Chief Inspector of the RSPCA until 2011 when he retired. He gave some really interesting comments and for those who know dog legislation well, especially the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. I’d love to know your thoughts!
“Mark, in my view and experience dealing with dangerous dogs and there owners for the past 36 years in the UK there are things that can be done at the beginning of the scale long before it reaches the Court for a serious offence of death caused by a dog or dogs.
It’s a two prong approach both with enforcement and education.
Long before the Police and SOCO arrive on the crime scene there is in most cases a history of one or more the following – Abuse, neglect or failing to provide the dog/s with its 5 needs as outlined in the Animal Welfare Act of 2006.
In North America for some years every case of a death caused by a dog as much evidence as can be collected has been looked at to find causes.
In all but a few cases the major contributing factor was one or more of the above.
We know every person (Child and Adult) killed by a dog or dogs in the UK since 1989.
In only a few of those death are we aware of what the history was with regard to the dogs welfare.
Of those we have evidence on it became clear it was abuse, neglect and or the dog needs as outlined in the AWA 2006 seriously missing
In the case of Jade Lomas-Anderson it was crystal clear in the evidence that came out how all the dogs where subject to seldom being provided with there needs to the point it caused suffering,
In the cases of Zumer Ahmed, Dean Parker, Gloria Knowles, Barbara Williams and Leslie Trotman the evidence was overwhelming that serious Animal welfare Offences had been caused for some time leading up to the deaths.
In some cases where the first responders that did attend well before the attack it appears they where unaware through lack of knowledge how the mis-treatment or failings to provide the needs would or could effect the behavior of the dog.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 section 9 (2) list those areas which a dog must be provided with. Section 10 then gives the enforcer the right to demand changes be made to improve the welfare of the dog.
Any sign of aggression without just cause is part of the section 9 as it effects the welfare of the dog.
Evidence of the death of humans has also proven that not one breed or type of dog is responsible.
Of course size matters as does the nature of certain breeds. If not trained properly at an early stage through positive enforcement and kindness.
A Jack Russell size dog is less likely to cause the death of a healthy adult then say a large Molossus size dog.
We can not expect the Police on there own to solve the problem of dangerous dogs
Charities who are enforcing animal welfare laws and Dog Wardens need to also take responsibility for ensuring as best they can that the dogs they visit that show aggression are dealt with under the Animal Welfare Act for not providing there needs before the matter becomes more serious.
History tells us that parliament has taken seriously the issue of dangerous dogs as far back as 1839, 1847, 1871 and again in 1989.
Each time dogs became so dangerous and often enough Parliament took time out to discuss the subject and pass legislation.
We have not begun to look at the reasons why each attack took place and the history of each dog.
In North America as mentioned above this research was not carried out by any government agency or money.
All the research was carried out by a Not for profit Body.
It was an body concerned with the welfare of dogs and trying to establish it is not one breed / type of dog that is dangerous.
The preliminary figures for causes of death to humans in the USA for 2013 have just been published by the NCRC. National Canine research Council.”
Jan Eachus – RSPCA Chief Inspector (Retired)