More than half the dogs killed after being seized by police have not harmed anyone, new figures have revealed – prompting calls for urgent reform of the legislation.
Figures reveal for the first time that the majority of dogs destroyed after being seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act, which bans breeds such as pit bull terriers and Japanese tosas, had not exhibited any dangerous behaviour or been involved in any incident with the public.
The latest available figures show that in 2015/16 a total of 307 dogs were destroyed after being seized, but that 175 of these (57 percent) would be widely regarded as âinnocentâ.
Indeed the vast majority of dogs seized during that period – 599 out of a total of 731- had not attacked anybody or showed dangerous intentions. Yet owners face a long and expensive legal fight to try and get their pets back.
The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, have prompted animal welfare charities to denounce the Dangerous Dogs Act as a blunt instrument which allows police to seize and destroy dogs simply because they belong to a banned breed, not because they have done anything wrong.
And they say it ignores the potential danger posed by dogs that are not banned, lulling the public into a false sense of security about other breeds.
Born Innocent, which campaigns for the act to be replaced, said it allows for police to seize dogs of any breed or crossbreed that may look like a pit bull, irrespective of behaviour.
The charity said: âOur FOI analysis shows 82 percent of the dogs seized had done nothing wrong. We believe the Dangerous Dogs Act is not only unscientific and cruel, it is also costly to the public and wastes police time, whilst the issue of preventing dog bites is not being addressed.
âBites and mortality have grown since the Act was introduced and one of the reasons, according to expert researchers, is that it creates a false belief that all other dogs are safe. Society is failing to address the issue of bite prevention correctly.â
The charity has launched a petition on the parliament.uk/petitions website calling for the law to be reformed. It found that in the past eight years ÂŁ3 million has been spent on kennelling seized dogs and over ÂŁ5m on police costs for investigation and prosecutions and argues that instead suspected banned breeds should be allowed to stay at home during investigations.
The new data comes after it was revealed that police in Northamptonshire seized a fluffy puppy under the Dangerous Dogs Act when it bit an officer on the hand and arm after running into the road.
The officer had tried to stop the 16-week old dog after it ran out of the drive of the familyâs ÂŁ2 million home near Towcester, last Saturday.
Bungle, a Chow Chow, was later returned to its owners, David and Susan Hayes, after they agreed to a voluntary control order.
The couple, who were inundated with messages of support, said: âIt is not just us that feels the outcome of this accident is grossly draconian and disproportionate.â