Dog Attacks: Call For Tougher Laws

Dog Attacks: Call For Tougher Laws

MPs have criticised the Government over what they say is "inaction" about dog attacks and poor animal welfare despite growing public concern.

A cross-party committee of MPs said current legislation had "comprehensively failed" to tackle irresponsible dog ownership and called for the consolidation of "fragmented" laws.

The MPs said proposals published last week to introduce compulsory dog microchipping in England and extend the law so that owners can be prosecuted if their dog attacks an individual on private property were "belated" and "woefully inadequate".

Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, who chairs the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: "Current laws have comprehensively failed to tackle irresponsible dog ownership."

She said neither the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Department (Defra) nor the Home Office had given sufficient priority to the issue.

According to the committee, dogs have killed seven people since 2007, including five children.

The NHS also spends over £3m every year to treat dog attack injuries.

"More than 100,000 strays are found each year. Incidences of cruelty and neglect are rising and many dogs are out of control due to the irresponsible or deliberate actions of a minority of owners," said Ms McIntosh.

The committee said it had a large number of responses from the public to its inquiry.

It said in a report that Defra had done little to improve dog welfare linked to dog breeding, with an over-reliance on voluntary action.

Defra last week announced that all dogs would be microchipped by 6 April 2016. The measure aims to make it easier to reunite dogs with their owners, thus relieving local charities and authorities who deal with stray dogs, the department said.