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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 12 February 2007

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 DISGRACEFUL MERSEYSIDE ‘DANGEROUS DOG AMNESTY

THE Kennel Club has learnt of Merseyside Constabulary’s intention to invoke its threatened 7-day dangerous dogsamnesty – or in reality a 7-day dog cull.  The Club is appalled by Merseyside’s decision and somewhat bewildered that it has not taken on board any advice that it asked for from the Kennel Club as to how to protect the public against dangerous dogs.

Said Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary:- “We are dismayed that Merseyside Constabulary has ignored our sensible advice which they asked for. We proposed a workable alternative – to re-open the Index of Exempted Dogs for 3 months to owner led application. They have gone ahead without listening and unfortunately their amnesty will leave the public unprotected while only responsible owners and their dogs will suffer”.

The so called ‘amnesty’ is a poorly thought out and ineffective response to a tragic situation, that will lead to the death of many well loved family pets and cause a great deal of distress to dog owners.

The obvious flaws to the amnesty being introduced by Merseyside are that:-

Some responsible owners will bring dogs forward to comply with the amnesty – their well behaved dogs would then be destroyed based on how they look.

Other responsible owners will hide their dogs because they cannot bear to part with them. This will drive responsible owners underground and as a result the welfare of the dogs will suffer i.e. through less exercise, not visiting vets etc.

Meanwhile those irresponsible enough to be involved in dog fighting or training dogs to be aggressive are not the sort of people that will come forward as they are not law abiding. The Kennel Club deplores the training of dogs for fighting and agrees that pit bull type dogs trained for fighting would not be eligible to be placed on the Index and should be humanely destroyed.

Meanwhile the obvious benefits to the alternative proposed by the Kennel Club are that:-

Re-opening the Index for 3 months would not allow for any more pit bull type dogs to be bred but would allow for more owners of pit bull type dogs to be made aware of the proposal and take responsible action.

Re-opening the Index would also help address the problem of limited Police resources i.e. in terms of keeping dogs and seizing dogs once the amnesty is over.

Compliance with the Kennel Club proposal would be far easier and more effective - rather than people hiding their dogs, more would register their dogs on the Index. As required by the Index, these dogs would have to be on a lead and muzzled in public, permanently identified and neutered, thereby ensuring the safety of all from any possibility of dog bites.

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KNEE JERK” DOG AMNESTY IS UNLIKELY TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC

ACROSS Merseyside a Dog Amnesty begins "WHICH WILL BRING THE ABOUT DEATH OF ANY DOG HANDED IN."

The DeedNOTBreed group strongly oppose this Amnesty for 2 reasons:-

• We are concerned the Amnesty will not work to make Merseyside a safer place for the public. Without a doubt, it will kill dogs. However, we feel owners of aggressive dogs - whatever their breed - will go further underground and are unlikely to hand in dogs. Instead, innocent family pets will be destroyed.

• The Merseyside Police make no mention of the Amendment of 1997 which states that destruction of breeds and types is not mandatory if a judge is satisfied that they are of no danger to the public (ie:- a family pet). Under the proposed scheme there is NO opportunity to go to court and apply to add dogs to the Index of Registered Dogs.

The Amnesty means the public can hand any dog they suspect is of a pit bull typein to the police without fear of prosecution. However, dogs – however friendly and good natured - will pay a heavy penalty. If deemed of type and signed over, they will die. It really is that simple.

DeedNOTBreed would like to make local dog owners aware of the following:

• You are under no legal obligation to hand over dogs under the Amnesty. If you do, and your dog is of type, IT WILL BE DESTROYED.

• If you do not hand over your dog under the amnesty and it is later seized, you are under no legal obligation to sign seized dogs over for destruction.

• If you don’t sign your dog over, you have the right to fight through the courts to save your pet’s life by proving that he or she poses no threat to the public. 1000 dogs have been registered this way since the act came out.

The Kennel Club recently described amnesties as a “knee-jerk response reminiscent of the rushed and ineffective Dangerous Dogs Act 1991”. Sadly, while dogs ‘of type’ may be illegal, they may not be dangerous and breed specific amnesties and bans do not protect children and adults from dangerous owners who train dogs to be aggressive. Many dogs of "type" are simply a legal cross breeding resulting in "type" off spring.

The well respected Dogs Trust also commented that they “(do) not believe that an amnesty will achieve the desired result of eliminating aggressive or dangerous dogs, nor would it ensure the prevention of dog attacks on people.”  The group welcomes Merseyside Police’s statement agreeing with Deed Not Breed’s position on the need to change the law (Dangerous Dogs Act 1991) which they now appear to feel is in urgent need for review.

“In the light of their acceptance that the law is wrong it seems strange that they are aggressively pursuing dogs and not focusing on poor ownership.

No breed of dog is inherently dangerous. Rather than hounding innocent dogs who simply "look the part" I would rather they joined us to call for consultation and better legislation, alongside the reopening of the index of exempt dogs so that responsible dog owners can work with the Police to register dogs – without the fear of their pets being killed.” says Deed not Breed Chairperson Melanie Page.

If you are a concerned dog owner, the group urges that you know your rights. Visit www.deednotbreed.org.uk  or call our helplines on:- 08700 34 55 62 or 08700 34 55 63 or for enquiries concerning deednotbreed call national enquiries 08700 34 55 64.

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