RSPCA Urges Changes to UK’s ‘Flawed’ Dangerous Dogs Act

For a quarter of a century, certain pet dogs have been confiscated and killed in the U.K. only because of how they look. Section One of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA) bans residents from owning pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brasileiros, as well as any crossbreeds that look like pit bulls.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) such as that included in the DDA is unfair because it punishes well-behaved dogs and responsible owners. Because of its similarity to racism in people, it’s been referred to as “breedism.” BSL has proven to be ineffective in increasing public safety where it’s been enacted in the United States. For these reasons, this legislation is opposed by most major U.S. animal welfare organizations as well as President Obama.

And now, on the 25th anniversary of the DDA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has released a report whose conclusions will come as no surprise to anyone opposed to BSL.

The report, titled “Breed Specific Legislation: A Dog’s Dinner,” exposes the “ineffectiveness, flaws and negative impact of the breed-specific law,” according to a press release.

Since the DDA has been enacted, thousands of dogs have been seized and destroyed – over the past two years alone, the RSPCA had to kill 366 only because of their breed — yet dog bites have actually increased. Thirty people have been killed by dogs in the U.K. since 1991, but 21 of those dogs were not banned breeds.

Photo credit: RSPCA

Credit: RSPCA

“The police, the RSPCA and other animal rescue organizations have to deal with the consequences of this flawed law by euthanizing hundreds of dogs because legislation is forcing us to due to the way they look, despite being suitable for rehoming,” Dr. Samantha Gaines, RSPCA dog welfare expert, said in the press release. “Not only is this a huge ethical and welfare issue, it also places significant emotional strain on staff.”

Instead of using government resources to confiscate and kill innocent dogs, the RSPCA report has an excellent suggestion: Put those resources to good use enforcing the section of the DDA that targets owners with dogs — of any breed — that are dangerously out of control.

Based on its findings, the RSPCA is calling for an investigation by the U.K. government into the effectiveness of the DDA, assessing other options to improve human safety and dog welfare, and ultimately repealing the breed-specific part of the legislation.

Three Innocent Dogs Affected by the Unfair DDA

Stella, Marley and Darla are just three of the thousands of dogs that have been taken from their homes only because of their looks. Tens of thousands of Care2 members signed petitions urging these innocent victims to be released and, fortunately, all three dogs are now in loving homes.

Stella: After this pit bull mix was taken away from her owner, she spent over two years in a 3-by-9 foot cage in a Devon and Cornwall Police kennel. Stella was never let out to exercise or play. But she’s now running free: Stella was allowed to be adopted by a kennel worker and now lives on her family’s farm.

Marley: The week before Christmas 2015, this pit bull mix was taken from her family. “Marley is not an aggressive dog and has never shown any sort of aggression,” said her owner, Lauren Stevenson. “She adores my 3-year-old daughter and we are lost without her.” Seven months later, Marley was released and returned to her family.

Darla: Even though Darla has been helping 7-year-old Maddison Armer deal with her autism and ADHD, because she is a pit bull mix, Darla is considered “dangerous” under the DDA and was seized by police. Darla was returned to the Armer family 19 days later.

Photo credit: Chris


Susan H
Susan Habout a year ago

Horrific law and needs to change asap :(

Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Thank you for posting.

Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a year ago

We know the reason behind the original bsl. Yet how is it that so many places actually instigated bsl laws yet desexing is rarely discussed? Why is mandatory desexing seen as impossible to require legally yet bsl is workable? It could be really simple but it never ever is

Michael Friedmann
Michael Friedmannabout a year ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Clare O
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

Nobody needs to own a breed regularly used for fighting and killing lions.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vagaabout a year ago

thats about time

Helene L
Helene Labout a year ago

No dog breed should be banned but I know of a ban and cull on some humans.

Janis K
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Wabout a year ago

Cruel BASTARDS Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Wabout a year ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing