15 facts about violent dogs in the UK

American Bully XL. They are bred and handled to be aggressive. This is a human problem ultimately
American Bully XL. They are bred and handled to be aggressive. This is a human problem ultimately. Image: MikeB

This information refers to the UK.

  1. Figures compiled by UK Pet Food tell us that there has been an increase of 3 million dogs to 12 million between 2019 to 2022 thanks to the Covid pandemic. Many of these dogs have been improperly socialised during breeding and improperly cared for after purchase, often online.
  2. There have been calls for the American Bully XL to be banned in the UK as the pit bull terrier was in 1991.
  3. The RSPCA does not advocate banning breeds but the reintroduction of dog licensing which was abolished in 1988.
  4. Dog licensing has the potential to generate money which could be used to improve dog welfare and tackle the problems surrounding irresponsible dog ownership which includes antisocial behaviour involving biting incidents.
  5. There are also calls for dog control notices to curb the actions of irresponsible owners. Such actions should focus on the “deed not breed“. This follows the advice of Nathan Winograd, American’s greatest animal shelter advocate. The word ‘deed’ means human and dog actions.
  6. The problem with dangerous dogs is not the breed per se but the way they are bred selectively by certain breeders and the way they are raised by certain individuals all of which can create an aggressive dog but they need not be that way. This is a human problem rather than a dog breed problem.
  7. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that measures should be taken from the range available which include community protection notices which can be served for low-level antisocial behaviour to offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act which allows prosecutions for serious offences which can put people in prison for up to 14 years.
  8. Previously, until 1987, dog licences were non-compulsory but the scheme was abolished because it was only taken up by half of dog owners.
  9. In the UK, dogs must be microchipped by law but there is no national register.
  10. There are proponents of a new dog licensing scheme suggesting a compulsory fee of £12-£35 per year which would be used to pay for greater enforcement of rules on breeding, aggressive behaviour, dog fouling and boosting the number of council dog wardens.
  11. In the UK, over the past six months, there have been more than 12,000 court listings involving dogs causing injury or death.
  12. Not all the attacks by dogs concern muscular breeds such as the American Bully XL as some concern designer pets such as the Basenji and the Akita, a Japanese dog popular with celebrities.
  13. Jack Lis, left his home one day to go skateboarding on the estate where he lived. Within 15 minutes there was a knock on his mother’s door telling her that he had been attacked by a seven stone dog called Beast and his injuries were so bad to his head and neck that he died in hospital later. He had been invited into a friend’s house who lived with Beast. The owner of the dog was prosecuted successfully and punished with 4 1/2 years in prison.
  14. However, many owners of violent dogs causing injury to people escape with small fines in the UK. Court records indicate that over the past six months, on average, offenders have been ordered to pay average fines of £813 while the victim received only £585 in compensation.
  15. There are calls for a change to the law as mentioned above.

My thanks to The Times newspaper of today and the article by Tom Witherow, Shayma Bakht and Tom Ball.

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