Desperately needed legislation can be brought in very quickly
George Brown needed 200 stitches after being bitten by a bull terrier
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
was hastily drawn-up after six-year-old Rukhsana Khan suffered
dreadful injuries when she was savaged by a pit bull terrier. The attack
occurred near her home in Bradford in May 1991.
There was public outrage when pictures of her in hospital were shown on
Acting in haste produces poor legislation The
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
made it illegal to have. The four banned breeds are the Pit
Bull Terrier (unmuzzled
in public), the Japanese Tosa (no one had ever seen one in the UK), the Dogo
Argentino, and the Fila Brasileiro.
It also bans any other dog "appearing... to be bred for fighting or to
have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose". This
particular wording has led to many complicated, and ridiculed, discussions
in courts about what exact type a particular dog is.
The act does not include
Rottweilers. In September 2006 a 5-month-old five-month-old
Cadey-Lee Deacon was killed by two Rottweiler dogs.
The Act does not include the
Presa Canario, a cross between a bulldog and
a mastiff, weighs up to eight stone, currently favoured by criminals.
Such dogs could be destroyed on an order of a court. This
produced endless arguments about what a dog of “the type” meant. Rougier J
in R v The Ealing Magistrates' Court, ex parte Fanneran
(1995) QBD said of the Act that it
“bears all the hallmarks of
an ill-thought-out piece of legislation, no doubt in hasty response to yet
another strident pressure group “
An an ageing innocent
Pit Bull Terrier called 'Tyson'
was destroyed because of the inflexibility in the Act. News report
From 1,222 prosecutions in 1992 prosecutions
dropped to 449 in 1996, but since then the number has risen to 608 (in
2004). Which suggest that the Act has had only partial effect.
Ellie Lawrenson aged 5 was killed by
a “pitbull terrier type” she was mauled by her uncle’s dog at her
grandmother’s house early on New Year’s Day 2007. The grandmother was
subsequently acquitted of manslaughter.
Lord Baker of Dorking, who as Home Secretary
introduced the Bill commenting on the death of Ellie, said that
American Pit Bulls should have been eradicated from Britain.
He said that the bill had been watered down reducing its effectiveness.
“The whole purpose of the Act was to
eliminate that particular breed from . . . our country. They are vicious
dogs and bred for fighting”.
The Act makes it an offence to have a dog dangerously
out of control only in a public place.
The Act does not apply to dogs on private premises so a householder
escapes legal sanctions under the Act if his dog bites a neighbour's
There is no compulsory registration scheme, so it is sometimes impossible
to link a dangerous dog to the owner.
There is no provision for micro-chipping dogs.
No strong sentencing provision such as mandatory life bans from dog
ownership in serious cases.
There is no requirement for a record of control orders.
is no specific offence of allowing a dog to stray.
Act makes no provision for fixed penalty fines for owners.