Barbaric law overdue for repeal


PEACEFUL protests have been taking place worldwide against the Dangerous Dogs Act (
DDA), which was introduced 25 years ago this month.

  One campaigning group, DDA Watch, which supports owners and dogs who become victims of the law, staged its protest outside the Palace of Westminster in Old Palace Yard, London, recently.

  Others were taking place at the same time in Cardiff, Belfast and Herefordshire – and further afield in Ontario, Quebec, Winnipeg, Victoria, Montreal, Ottawa and in Germany, all part of a global movement to repeal breed-specific laws.

  The DDA, which outlaws specific breeds, is a piece of failed legislation, the group says, and has done nothing to prevent dog attacks, which are increasing in number.

  The Act was introduced in 1991 and campaigners are stressing how it continues to cost millions of pounds in taxpayers' money to enforce while doing nothing to protect people or dogs; neither does it promote responsible dog ownership, members say.

  The ‘dog defenders’ rallied outside the Houses of Parliament, with people of all ages travelling in from all over the UK, united to speak out and call for a repeal of a law which they say targets types of dogs and condemns them as 'dangerous' based on their physical appearance. More than 2,000 DDA Watch leaflets were distributed in central London and petition signatures gathered to help create awareness.

  There were speeches, poems and a period of silence to remember all the dogs who have suffered as a result of the legislation. A tribute was read, flowers and collars were laid and a candle was lit. 

  The ashes of a dog called Paul – a recent DDA victim representing all those whose lives have been lost – were laid alongside a sheet bearing the names of other dogs who have been put to sleep because of their physical similarities to the pit bull.

  “Silence fell outside the mighty building in Westminster and tears were shed as heads bowed and remembered,” said DDA Watch director Sian Morton. “Many of the placards and banners held represented a dog tragically lost to breed-specific laws, each case highlighting the injustice and loss.

  “One supporter was dressed as the 'Grim Reaper' to represent the law, and stood alongside the campaigners, including children holding up photographs of dogs they had lost. It was a poignant moment in the heart of London just a short distance from where the law was passed and could now be repealed.”

  Thousands of dogs in the UK continue to be put to death or deemed ‘dangerous’ based on their physical appearance, Ms Morton continued.

  “The law makes no sense, is barbaric and is long overdue for repeal. Dogs continue to be ripped from their families even though they have never put a paw wrong. Breed-specific legislation continues to cost millions of pounds in taxpayers' money to enforce and does nothing to protect people or dogs, Neither does it promote responsible dog ownership. 

  “These protests are staged by people coming together, making a stand and speaking out in defence of all dogs, regardless of what shape or size they happen to be.

  “Leading animal welfare charities have disagreed with and openly discredited breed-specific legislation for many years, outlining the fact that dogs cannot be labelled 'dangerous' for their looks alone, and they have called for an end to this outdated legislation.”