Monday, 18 February 2013

Defra Announcement - what is proposed:

The Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) made a long-awaited announcement on 6th February 2013 putting forward a package of measures it believes will tackle welfare and irresponsible dog owners; these measures will apply to dogs and their owners in England.
Here we take a look at what Government plans to do, no opinions on this article (EDDR submitted written reports to the Defra 2010 Consultation, the Defra 2012 Consultation and most recently the EFRA Select Committee).
Here are the facts from what is presently known.

Defra ran a public consultation ’promoting more responsible dog ownership’ from April to June last year and sought opinions on four specific proposals:
  1. A requirement that dogs are micro-chipped with details of the owner.
  2. A change in the criminal law in section 3 of Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to extend the offence of a dog being dangerously out of control to all places, including private property.
  3. Allow owners of dogs seized as suspected dangerous dogs or prohibited types to retain possession of their dogs until the outcome of court proceedings.
  4. Increase the application fee for prohibited dogs to be placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs
They received 27,000 responses; the results of this consultation have been now been published.
Defra (under the previous government) held an earlier ‘dangerous dogs’ consultation between March and ending on the 1st June 2010, they received 4,250 responses; a summary of the responses to the 2012 Defra consultation can be found online here in the Defra archives.
What is planned:
Here we explain what Defra has announced it now plans and we will be updating our website as more information becomes available:
- An extension of section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended):
A criminal offence which covers all breeds/types of dog – to be extended to cover private property i.e. inside your home, the proposed extension Defra has said will not provide protection to trespassers who have entered a private property whom the householder believes has unlawful intentions.
This change in law would be passed by an amendment to the current DDA as and when Parliamentary time permits; the detail, in the wording, has not yet been made public.
- All dogs in England will need to be micro-chipped by April 2016:
After the 6th April 2016, the owner of a dog found by the police or local authority not to have a microchip will be given a short period of time to comply with the micro-chipping law, if they do not, they will face a fine of up to £500
Dog owner details will need to be registered on an authorised database and contact details kept up to date. Any new owner (e.g. the dog is sold or given away) will need to registered on the micro-chip database.
- Increase in the application fee paid to the Index of Exempted Dogs:
It is planned that the fee paid by the owner of a dog deemed prohibited (Sec 1 of DDA) & ordered exempted by the court is raised from the current cost of £24 to £77 plus vat = £92.40.
This increase is expected to be introduced “through a fees order under secondary legislation” and will apply to England, although we expect Scotland and Wales, who have held a separate consultation will also increase the fee.
- Seizure and kennelling of suspected prohibited dogs:
Prohibited dogs (section 1 – DDA). It is proposed that it should be no longer necessary for the police to seize and kennel a dog pending the outcome of a court hearing, if the dog is not considered to present a risk to the public; the police will have discretion. An amendment to the exemption scheme is proposed through secondary legislation.
(Note: Currently prohibited dogs can already be left at home under the ‘leave at home’ policy – this is entirely up to the police but generally not used. There is currently a requirement that the dog is seized and in police custody at the time of when the legal proceedings take place-the court hearing - it may be that this amendment will remove the requirement for the dog to be seized and held whilst legal proceedings take place, but it is still totally up to the discretion of the police.)
- Government Funding:
Government has provided £50,000 shared between the RSPCA, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and the Dogs Trust for local community projects to encourage responsible dog ownership and funding has been given to the Association of Chief Police Officers to support the training of police officers in dog control legislation.
Related News Articles:
 Defra Press Release' - 'Free microchip for every dog in England' 6th Feb.
 Written statement from Owen Patterson Defra Minister - 'Tacking Irresponsible Dog Ownership' 6th Feb.