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Updated Dangerous Dogs Act Won't Prevent Dog Bites, Warns RSPCA

14 May 2014

UK - New dog control laws that come into force this week won’t have any impact on reducing the number of dog bites being treated in hospitals, according to the RSPCA.

Britain’s biggest animal charity welcomed the move to increase sentencing options for those convicted of some dog control offences and extending the law to cover private property, as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

However, the RSPCA don’t think the measures under the new legislation will meet the Government’s aim to reduce the number of injuries from attacks.

The RSPCA instead believes the best way to reduce the number of incidents is to focus on educating people about how to behave around dogs, rather than react to them once they have already happened.

Dog bite statistics will be one of the Key Performance Indicators to be used by the Government to determine the effectiveness of the new Act.

David Bowles, the RSPCA’s head of public affairs, said: “We don’t believe these figures will go down because the new legislation doesn’t prevent bites from happening. It merely provides a framework for a possible response to them once they have already happened.

“The number of dog bites being treated in hospitals has generally increased by 2-3 per cent year on year and I don’t expect it to change after the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act comes into force.”

The RSPCA is continuing to call for adequate resources and training for those enforcement bodies which will be using the legislation, including local authority dog wardens and police forces.

The RSPCA also believe a properly coordinated public education and engagement campaign about responsible dog ownership and how to stay safe around dogs is essential to achieve a reduction in dog bites.

“Statistics show that the age group with highest hospital admissions for dog bites are children aged nine and below.

“Children often tend to cuddle and kiss dogs with very close facial contact, which a dog could find threatening. Therefore it is vital that parents and others teach themselves and children about dogs so signs that a dog is uncomfortable are recognised and acted upon,” added David.

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