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Cost of Irresponsible Dog Ownership Estimated at £80 Million

07 January 2015

ANALYSIS - A report compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) shows that irresponsible dog ownership is costing the taxpayer up to £80 million a year, writes Gemma Hyland.

The APGAW sub-group for dogs is comprised of cross-party politicians and a small group of key stakeholders including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Blue Cross, the British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, PDSA, and the RSPCA.

Estimates for the costs of irresponsible dog ownership

Area Estimated cost (per
annum)
Attacks by dogs on farm
livestock
£2.8 million
Attacks by dogs on
humans
£4 million
Zoonotic diseases £10 million
Road traffic accidents £14 million
Stray dog control service £46 million
Dog welfare issues
(enforcement)
£52 million
Dangerous dog control (by
police)
£3.7 million (acquired post
study)
GRAND TOTAL £80.5 million

The sub-group was formed because of the growing interest and awareness amongst politicians of dogrelated issues.

There appears to be a general consensus amongst politicians that these are important issues which can impact heavily upon their constituencies.

Dogs affect the economy both positively and negatively and aside from farm animals, are one of the most significant animals in relation to people with most individuals having some sort of contact with them on a daily basis.

The responsibility for managing many of these issues has been left to ‘self-regulation’ on the whole with state intervention only in the case of attacks, straying or cruelty.

The public has largely been free to own, trade, sell and manage dogs with very little regulation.

The report states: "While the data has not been updated since 2010 for inflation, etc it provides the best estimate of costs to taxpayers.

"It is quite astonishing that irresponsible dog guardianship can cost the taxpayer just over £80 million per year. It should also be noted that the RSPCA saves the taxpayer a further £52 million per year in its work on dog welfare.

"With increasingly tighter budgets not just for the public sector but also the charitable sector, prevention and early intervention strategies become ever more important.

"Additionally welfare organisations rescue and rehabilitate a large number of dogs each year."

Chairman of the APGAW sub-group on Dogs, Rob Flello MP says: "There is a range of legislation relating to dogs but many argue that it is clear that it is no longer suitable and is not taking into account the latest understanding of dog welfare (and in particular behaviour) as well as the very different place most dogs now have in society to when much of the legislation was passed.

"Technology and resources have an impact on how we respond to these issues, for example how dogs are acquired has changed significantly with the internet and international trade as well as reduced resources amongst local government and the police for dealing with the continual problem of stray dogs and dog attacks. What we need is for all dog owners and carers to be responsible.

"However, it is fundamental to set out exactly what responsible dog ownership and guardianship should look like. This seems like a simple question, and it is the one that started this piece of work.

"Yet the answer is complex and it is important that any future strategy recognises the interactions between irresponsible breeding and trade with dog control and animal welfare as well as the many benefits that come from dog ownership."

Further Reading

You can view the full APGAW report by clicking here.

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor



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