The Kennel Club has repeated its call for a repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 because it fails to put the onus on the owner. This follows last night’s Panorama programme, Britain’s Unwanted Pets, which revealed the amount of aggressively reared dogs that have to be put down by organisations such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (Country Life, Town & Country, July 28).

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko says: ‘The Dangerous Dogs Act has not reduced the number of dog attacks. It has simply made banned breeds and their lookalikes, such as Staffordshire bull terriers, more appealing among those looking for a dog that will boost their ego. It is no coincidence that it is these dogs that are pouring into rehoming centres.’

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The Kennel Club is backing Lord Redesdale’s new Dog Control Bill, which has passed its second reading in the House of Lords and is now at committee stage. The bill, backed by dog welfare organisations, vets and police, seeks to place the onus for responsibility on the owner, and is not breed-specific.

Mrs Kisko adds: ‘The current legislation ignores the overwhelming evidence that whether a dog is dangerous or well behaved is down to the owner. The priority must be to crack down on irresponsible owners who fail to train, care for and socialise their dogs, rather than wasting already overstretched police resources seizing banned breeds and their lookalikes simply because they are of a certain type.’

Some 50% of Battersea’s intake is Staffordshire bull terriers; ‘Staffie’ aficionados love them for their gentle, friendly natures, but they suffer an image problem due to their physical similarity to the banned pit bull terrier.  

The Kennel Club provides health checks and veterinary screening for registered dogs, though these are not compulsory. Mrs Kisko urges potential dog owners who want a puppy rather than a rescue dog to go to a Kennel Club-accredited breeder (www.the-kennel-club.org.uk).