Wednesday, 29 May 2013

No To DDA Amendments-MP Template Letter

Say No To DDA Amendments which will affect all dogs.

Please use our new template MP letter for ideas or use as it is, more letters needed - voice your concerns - innocent dogs need you.

You can send a letter via post to the House of Commons or email your MP

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Your MP
House of Commons

I am contacting you regarding the amendments planned for the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991 which have been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2013-14 currently in progress in parliament.
I am very concerned that these amendments will unfairly incriminate responsible dog owners and their pet dogs and I do not support what is currently planned and before parliament.
I do not think that section three of the DDA should be extended to ‘any’ place – which I understand is for example inside my home and would apply to both aggravated and non-aggravated situations.
Under the legislation the legal definition of ‘dangerously out of control’ is: a dog is presumed to be such if on any occasion there are grounds for ‘reasonable apprehension’ of injury to any person - whether or not any injury has happened.
The planned extension of the DDA to private property I feel could leave responsible owners open to malicious complaints (e.g. neighbour and family disputes) and not suitably protected from trespassers and intruders – anyone present on my property without my consent.
Where will I stand if a burglar/trespasser is in my garden and my dog runs out and barks at them – this could give cause for ‘reasonable apprehension’ under the extended DDA and I would be presumably on the wrong side of the law?
What if someone comes to read my electric/gas meter and then later complains my dog barked at them and they felt reasonable apprehension – my dog could be seized from my own home?
What about a dog running and baking in its own garden and a neighbour complains they felt reasonable apprehension’ and the dog is seized by a dog warden or the police whilst the complaint is investigated?
Offences where any injury has occurred are currently treated as one of strict liability; I feel that defences should be allowed for example if a dog is acting in self-defence.
Following a serious dog attack within a family unit it is often reported that the DDA is flawed as it doesn’t enable criminal prosecution and this is described as a ‘loophole’. But what would be the benefits of criminally prosecuting the parents of a child which has been bitten by their own family dog? This will not prevent dog injuries inside people’s homes – in my opinion; education is needed and is the way forward to prevent the majority of dog injuries inside the home environment and to encourage/promote responsible dog ownership.
Education is the key to responsible dog ownership, education prevents dog bites, it should be compulsory in schools forming part of the National Curriculum.
Additionally, I do not believe that barking or growling, with no actual contact, at an assistance dog should be allowed to lead to a criminal prosecution or civil proceedings as the amendments will permit if passed as law.
I also do not support the amending of the DDA so that when the court is deciding whether a dog would constitute a danger to public safety, the court MUST consider whether the owner is ‘fit and proper’ and may consider ‘any other relevant circumstances’. In my view the definition of what is ‘fit and proper’ is wide open to interpretation as are ‘any other circumstances’; for example, whether or not there is a garden, a dog owner's disability or having children is considered by the court and a pet dog is given a death sentence because of it.
There should not be a compulsory stipulation as to what the court must take into account, this is removing discretion from the court and is in my opinion open to misuse and will result in the death of more innocent pet dogs who are not a danger to anyone in my opinion.
Furthermore I understand that the DDA is to be amended to allow civil proceedings to be performed under all sections but with no legal aid to cover civil proceedings, many dog owners will have no means to defend themselves and to defend their dog from a possible death sentence e.g. to instruct a solicitor. Surely legal aid should be extended also for these cases.
This Bill fails to address the need to put the emphasis on the education to encourage responsible dog ownership and help prevent dog bite incidents, the desperate need to remove the breed specific element of the legislation which is causing suffering and mayhem-the repeal of which has been widely supported in previous consultations but totally ignored by government.
I look forward to your reply.

 Repeal Breed Specific Law - Campaign Info.