Will licenses stop dog bites? The RSPCA say they will

Sometime in the hour after 9am I'm on BBC Radio 5 live about the RSPCA's call for the dog license to be brought back.
I'd like to ask you - are you one of the 2/3rds of dog owners they claim want it back? If so, what do you think it will achieve?
Do you live in a country that has dog licenses? Do you have no problems? No dog bites, no fouling.
Is it really the magic wand we want - or is it merely a dog tax on the good owners?
Do let me have your thoughts...!


Julie said…
Does a driving license stop car crashes!!
Why should I, as a responsible (but not rich) dog owner, pay yet more to cover the cost of the unresponsible dog owners?
Reggie Quinn said…
In Ireland, dog licenses are used by local councils to finance the dog wardens, pounds and the 'kill' solution to a massive unwanted dog population. I would have no problem buying a license if the money went to a 'no kill' animal welfare organisation.
Anonymous said…
Well said, Julie!
Jem said…
Agree with Reggie. Used to live in Turkey, where rabies jab certificate also functioned as dog licence.
Perhaps something like that would work here (but for annual boosters) except not everyone agrees with annual jabs ...
Frances said…
I would like to see a dog ownership test which licensed the person to own a certain number of dogs of a certain kind, rather as a driving test licenses you to drive particular vehicles. It would address absolute basics like the costs of keeping a dog, need for insurance, how to choose a puppy or dog, training needs, etc. Having such a licence would then become a prerequisite for buying or homing a dog or puppy, and could be checked at any time.

I really cannot see how a dog licence would be anything other than another costly exercise in bureaucracy. For it to actually raise any useful sum, as well as cover its own costs, it would have to be pretty hefty. Like Reggie, I would happily pay it if it was used to fund real improvements in animal welfare, but not if it is just another knee jerk reaction.
Anonymous said…
I have nine dogs most rescues some blind some just so illtreated they would not be rehomeable but all living out their lives in comfort with me.We dont have lots of money and what we have goes on vets fees why should we pay extra out each year for licenses when those that cause the problems wont bother.Are the RSPCA just trying to get rid of pet ownership altogether?If i could not afford to license how would i choose who to PTS as that would be the only option?and what about the pensioners and disabled who enjoy the company of a dog?
Wendy said…
Do all drivers have a driving license?
cambstreasurer said…
Playing devils advocate: can you give reasons why the government shouldn't abolish the requirement for Local Authorities to employ dog wardens as a cost-cutting measure if we don't have some system of generating income specifically linked to dogs?

When the old dog license system was in force the explanation generally given for the different treatment of dogs compared with any other stray animal was that dog owners had paid for the service through the license fee.

Obviously this was factually incorrect towards the end of its existence, but given that (with a few exceptions) politicians fundamentally don't care about animals why should they spend taxpayers' money on keeping strays alive for 7 days?

There is already some pressure to give local authorities "fast-track culling powers for the Police in relation to the animals" in the case of dogs who have been seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

I certainly don't have any expectation that a dog license is a magic wand, but wouldn't £20 be worth paying if it meant:

There would be somewhere safe to take a stray dog you found wandering on the road at 3 am.

If your own dog was frightened by something, ran off and was found straying it would be guaranteed that she could be taken somewhere safe and scanned for a chip.

There were enough dog waste bins, emptied frequently enough not to be unpleasant to use.

(apologies for long rant)
Anonymous said…
Cambs Treasure seem pretty quite....or are they keeping the RSPCA part political line!?
Anonymous said…
Which dog owners did they ask about licences and how many did they ask. They certainly didn't ask me or anybody I know.

Yet again good owners are proposed to be penalised for the rest of them.

Julie makes a very good point. Good drivers already pay for the bad ones through insurance, now it's the turn of good dog owners.

It still has no chance of getting to the bad owners as they will just not get a licence, just as they don't get boosters, collars & tags, socialisation training, insurance or neutering. And who exactly is going to monitor such an undertaking - the alphabet police or councils which have just had their budgets slashed.

Chapstaff said…
I see Anonymous with the 9 dogs has posted what I was about to say.
Couldn't agree more.
Blackshuck said…
At the moment I am in two minds about this.

It used to be that the 'average family' (whatever they are) would have one or at the most two dogs. It is generally only 'dog enthusiasts' (like many of the people reading this blog), who would have more than 2.

Having a dog is an expensive business anyway, so I do not see the extra cost as onerous for those prepared to pay for the PRIVILAGE (NOT a right!) of sharing your life with a doggy companion.

If I could be assured that the money was going to go to good use, I would fully support the licence. That might mean additional education and support for less responsible owners, so I guess those who feel resentment that prisoners get free education may similarly feel resentment that they are paying for the mistakes of the irresponsible.

But looking at the wider picture, if it benefitted the individual dogs, and dog welfare in this country as a whole, and if it improved the perception of dogs in society by the many people out there who would really rather not be bothered by dogs at all... I consider it a price worth paying.

Will it stop dog bites? Not directly. Will it improve welfare for the many illtreated or abandoned dogs we have? Possibly. Will it provide more resources to combat irresponsible breeding and ownership? That would be my hope.

The services provided by dog wardens are woefully inadequate in many parts of the country and this is likely to get worse with austerity measures. I see no reason why the cost to society of dog ownership should not be subsidised by a direct tax on dog owners.

If keeping a dog is a privilege, then keeping multiple dogs is even more so. Frances's idea about licencing the owner rather than the dog is interesting, and I definately think its worth exploring alternative options like this one. Perhaps I am being naive in thinking that there will be adequate compliance rates, but I would want some of the income generated to go towards ENFORCING compliance from the very types of owner that need it most. And if my £20 get spent on that - good!
Anonymous said…
Funny when donations to the RSPCA are dropping due to public opinion they start to push for laws which would provide them with millions a year as im sure they would be involved with policing it and the money somewhere along the way.
savingpets said…
It's interesting that they use Victoria, Australia as an example of a 'successful' dog licencing program.

Victoria has had a state-wide licencing scheme since the 1970s. It also has an awful track record for killing companion animals and targeting bull breeds.

Of the around 21,000 dogs entering the three major shelters each year, around half go home, 6,500 are killed, 4,500 are adopted.

In an attempt to reduce the number of stray dogs, they've recently upped the fines for; non-registration to $2,400,
up to $700 for a roaming dog and expanded their breed specific legislation to include 'pit bull type' (crosses). They're working on compulsory desexing and expanding 'shoot to kill' powers as a way of managing roaming dogs.

Basically, by driving a wedge between the community and the council by targeting owners with stronger and stronger legislation, a culture of 'us and against them' has been formed.

Choose this path carefully; when you start punishing everyone in an attempt to influence the behaviour of a few, you're giving powers to authority which they don't always use to the benefit the animals.
cambstreasurer said…
Anonymous - would you sincerely want us to return to the "bad old days" of the 1950s when the RSPCA in the UK really was killing thousands of healthy unwanted dogs every year?

This is NOT about revenue raising for the RSPCA and I do not expect to receive a penny if licensing does happen.

What I fear is that people like you will succeed in reducing donations (so that we can do less) while the government cuts back provision.

It is absolutely essential that people on low income still have access to low-cost neutering and veterinary treatment for their pets. Groups who are only interested in rehoming are part of the problem, not part of the solution if they are in the business of attacking those who are providing the other elements of the "no-kill equation".
Anonymous said…
I would agree 100% with Chapstaff and the person with 9 dogs. Somebody who rescues, adopts and helps to reduce the unwanted dog population, should that person be penalised by reimposing such outdated and victorian ( victoria - australia ) laws. What about the old, the pensioners and the poor ? Whose pocket is this money being taken out of and for whose benefit ? Will this all go to benefit animals ? We must move towards being a more compassionate society. I wonder if RSPCA ought not to be rechristened - Royal Society for PROMOTION of Cruelty to Animals.
Anonymous said…
I live in Holland and pay nearly 150 euros a year dog tax for 2 very small terriers. There are spot checks on houses to see if there are dogs and how many, and you risk up to 2000 euro fine for not paying tax. In my town there are no stray dogs and most owners are responsible. I do think the tax should go by wieght of the dog. I pay the same as someone with 2 great danes!
Helena from Edmonton said…
I moved from England to Canada 5 years ago and have had dogs in both countries. We have a dog licence system in place here and I can categorically say that the only difference it makes is for the city who collect the fee annually, other than that dog ownership is exactly the same.
Anonymous said…
I see from the other post on this subject the RSPCA have made up their FACTs to meet their own ends, can Cambstreasure actually defend their twisted stats?

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