Bruce latest

Bruce, a family pet kept on ‘canine death row’  has been held since seized from his family in September 2007 for looking the wrong shape and size as outlawed under breed specific legislation in Northern Ireland. Now top vet Professor Bill Reilly has spoken out against the legislation and urged a rethink on the Government’s position.

For Bruce a staggering two years has passed while his legal case is ongoing even though he has never put a paw wrong in his life and he’s not alone in this legal nightmare where life hangs in the balance and Bruce and others are confined to a concrete cell and cruelly denied the family homes they once knew.  This surely cannot be the actions of a civilized society when in fact it is irresponsible and uneducated breeders and owners who are the problem, not breeds or ‘types’ of dogs?

The annual BVA North of Ireland Dinner held at the Parliament Buildings in Stomont, Northern Ireland took place on the 29th October 2009, addressing the Dinner was the recently newly appointed  President of the BVA; Professor Bill Reilly.

Speaking before guests including the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, Jim Nicholson MEP and several other politicians as well as veterinary professionals, Bill Reilly covered several “core topics” including that of breed specific legislation (BSL).

A copy of the full speech can be found on the BVA web site, in relation to BSL, Professor Reilly said:

“Dogs are also hitting the headlines through the recent announcement of new control measures. I was shocked to read that one third of all dogs destroyed in the UK are in Northern Ireland – clearly the dual problems of dangerous and stray dogs are an enormous drain on your resources.

We welcome your commitment to promoting responsible pet ownership, but we are disappointed with the proposal to retain breed-specific legislation.

The manner in which a dog behaves is both a result of its inherited characteristics and, more importantly, the rearing and training provided by its owner.

We know that aggression is a normal behaviour and can be shown by any dog of any breed, type or mixed breeding. Breed-specific legislation therefore engenders a false and dangerous perception that breeds not banned will not show aggression.

I would urge the Minister to rethink her position on this issue and shift the focus of control to ‘deed not breed’, alongside a concerted campaign to promote responsible pet ownership.“

Minister Michelle Gildernew has given a written response to the BVA President’s speech at the BVA Dinner and in relation to the comments on BSL has stated:

“I note your comments on my proposals for dog control legislation and in particular on the issue of breed specific legislation. Subject to Executive approval, I plan to begin consultation in November on my proposals. I will ensure that the BVA receives a copy of the consultation document and I would clearly value the Association's input on my full proposals at that stage.”

It is heartening to hear that the leader of the BVA has spoken out against breed specific legislation and has urged the Minister to rethink her position on this issue.

Breed bans do simply not work and are costing millions of pounds to implement whilst failing dismally to protect the public whilst innocent adult dogs and puppies are being held in kennels at huge public expense awaiting court hearings to determine their fate with a tape measure or being automatically put to death and all based solely on their appearance.

Please support the President of the BVA and write to Minister Gildernew and urge her to repeal breed specific legislation in Northern Ireland and to spare the life of Bruce and other family pets currently caught up in this unjust and unworkable legal nightmare:

  • Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD):  &
  • Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development - Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA: 
  • British Veterinary Association - Presidents Office:

Further details at 


Unknown said…
BSL makes otherwise wonderful pooches suffer unnecessary fates. It's disappointing. More on BSL here
I have written my emails and sent them, Poor Bruce, still in that cold concrete cell, and all because he "looks" the way he does, when will these people realise that it,s ban the deed, not the breed!! my heart goes out to all the dogs that are innocent, and being in these terrible places just because of the way they look.

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