Friday, 4 January 2008

Today's challenge

Apparently Wandsworth Council has gone a bit extreme and are trying to bring in a few measures that could make life very hard for dog owners. I suspect this is a knee-jerk reaction to the Rottie and the baby incident.
If you have any inside knowledge or ideas do please share because at 4pm I get picked up to go on ITV's London Tonight at 6pm - it'll be live and I need to make some decent points to try to help avoid chaos in Wandsworth.
Basically they want to bring in a licence for fighting dog types (?) of £500 a year. Dogs not already covered by the DDA - so do they mean Rotties?
They will also have the power to evict anyone who has a 'fighting-type dog' -that is out of control.
Sounds complete madness to me. And everyone who has a Staffie, Rottie, cross will be living in fear of falling out with a neighbour in case there's an allegation made against their dog.
I'm sure something else newsworthy will happen in the next few hours and we'll get bumped.
What would you say if you were in the chair?

Just been given this link to Wandsworth council's site - have a read. £500 a year per dog - gulp! Only the drug dealers will be able to afford dogs.

Been having a mull - here's my ideas so far:
I have to say this isn't the easiest topic to deal with, it's easy for it to become emotive and for me to be seen as callous. But I think the basic thrust is that no one should keep dogs as guards. That a dog treated mean and kept outside in the yard is a huge danger to the owner and their family. And that is the lesson we should learn from the recent tragedies involving dogs and children.

All the dogs that have been killed were acquired because they were perceived to be dangerous - and that's the problem!

Wandsworth's proposals would put dog ownership out of the league of normal people - only drug dealers and dog fighters could afford them - and I don't think that would make me feel any safer!

As Staffies are the number one dog through rescue in the south think how many home-checked responsible owners would be hit by this dog tax. It's madness.

How about a system where you prove your dog is a good citizen - just like you can reduce your congestion charge by cutting emissions. if you take your dog on a training course you don't pay the tax?

What do you think folks? What will the intreviewer say to that one?


Lorraine said...

What a great opportunity to raise some sensible points, amongst all the hysterics that are being spouted in the media.
I think it is important to point out that ALL breeds ( & X breeds) whatever the size, are capable of inflicting damage on people.
That people who buy dogs should research before buying & ensure the dogs are socialised properly.
Most owners of large (wrongly called aggressive) breeds are very responsible owners who attend training classes & properly care for their pets.
Imposing these charges will penalise these responsible owners as the irresponsible ones won't pay.
I wonder what the councils dog wardens views are ?
Surely they should be involved as 1st point of contact if such a dog is reported.

Good Luck...we are all hoping you can inject some common sense into the debate.

Anonymous said...

In Australia they have some very strict rules in most coucnils. All dogs must be microchipped and all breeders must spey or neuture their puppies unless being held back for possible breeding reasons. Every dogs is micro-chipped and this is linked in with a licence which they have to get from the local county council, so microchip is licence numbers. Every dog has to be licenced through this system on top of which if you have 2 or more dogs you have to apply to the council for a permit to keep more than 2 dogs and if you are breeding dogs you have to have a certain amount of acerage for the dogs it goes per dog in most places and all breeders no matter how small must be licenced and inspected on a yearly basis. Dangerous dogs are not accepted in Australia unless under strict regime and the council do enforce it. Dogs have areas in Australia which are fenced off for dogs to be "off lead". Its for the safety of everyone and of course the wildlife. I feel this should be brought into this country. We should all have licences and all dogs should be microchipped and if your dog is found wandering there should be a strike system. Australia issue very hefty fines and they will take dogs away if you cannot control them. We really need to bring in a more robust system in this country, for example, all dogs should be microchipped and if they aren't the owner should be fined if the dogs is found loose and the dogs should be microchipped before being released back into the owners care at the cost of the owner. This can be easily put into place for most dogs when they go for their routine vaccinations. Tye the microchip number into the owner into the licence which they need to have to be able to keep the dog. Not everyone can go to dog training classes so I dont think that would work only with some. Stricter regualtions. If we all have a licence I am happy to pay £20 or £30+ a year for a licence for each dog and in return we get free doggy bags and support from our county council to make the UK dog friendly and irradicate the dangerous dogs and bad owners. Ontop of which it could also be linked to having the dogs insured which should be a must as well.

Jontus said...

I wish I was able to watch your piece. Here in Sweden we don't get the channel! Still, I think this must have been a great opportunity to put your point across.

I am against neutering per se as a means of combating aggression. I think there are issues linked to neutering that are often ignored: for example, neutered dogs can have difficulties with other dogs because they aren't "read" in the same way. It's a matter of language for them.

I council my clients to try chemical sterilization before the big snip (!) to see how the dog will act. This is increasingly the practice in Sweden.

As for a lower charge for "good" doggies, I am not so sure this would work after the first attack by a dog that had passed the test. It could even be counter productive and show that even so-called trained dogs can be dangerous.

Not that I am against training at all. I think that it shouldn't be linked to legislation, though.

I'd like to see breeders vet owners more carefully. As a trainer and breeder, I am incredibly fussy about who I sell to. Okay, I breed bassets (harmless, couch potatoes!) but I still expect my prospective buyers to demonstrate an incredible understanding of what they are taking on.

I'm glad the media turn to you Beverley. It's good that a voice of reason gets heard amongst the craziness that is involved in discussing dogs.

best wishes,

Anonymous said...


Have only just seen this so no help for you interview. Try doing a search on 'Surrey Comet Dangerous Dogs' and you will see the problems that Wandsworth and other London Boroughs are having. This may not be the answer but peoples pets are being reguarly killed and the dogs which are causing these problems are being ill treated by their so called owners. Something does need to be done and fast.

Anonymous said...

Im curious to know what they mean by 'fighting types' cos their are only a handfull of genuine fighting breeds.

If this is a kneejerk reaction to the recent Rottweiler attacks,then they should word their statements better and with more thought.Rottweilers are a herding breed and were known as "the butchers dog" because they were used for herding cattle to market so where does the fighting bit come into their description?

Im guessing though that Wandsworth council have local elections this year and are trying appease a small minority of non dog owners voters by exagerating their fears of such breeds.Wouldnt suprise me if the councillor who suggested this isnt as popular as they hope and need this exposure.

Anonymous said...

See the above post and read the press reports as to what has been happening in Wandsworth for months. Peoples dogs and cats are being killed by yobs with their macho dogs. People are too scared to take their dogs our for walks. One poor dog that was critically injured had to be shot by the Police to put it out of its misery as quickly as possible after a sustained attack. What a terrible thing to happen to any dog owner. This has nothing to do with the recent Rotty tragedy.

Anonymous said...

In response to the above post about the 'poor dog' that was shot by police after an attack.

That dog was a Staffie - one of the breeds Cll Lister wants classified as dangerous, fighting-type dogs. One one hand it's a much beloved family pet, on the other it's a snarling, raging, devil dog. He can't have it both ways.

As someone who lives 100 yards from where that attack happens, and who owns a completely daft staffie x whippet I live in fear of walking my dog. Not because of the dogs around, but because of the ignorance, narrow-mindedness and downright stupidity of the people who cross the road to avoid my Kennel Club Bronze Good Citizen, Pets as Therapy in training, Staffy cross.