In Brief

Which dangerous dogs are banned in the UK?

Four specific breeds have been prohibited since 1991, but recent statistics are prompting MPs to reconsider the law

MPs are set to launch a new inquiry to investigate whether laws banning certain dangerous dogs are still effective at keeping people safe from attacks.

The Dangerous Dog Act was introduced to Parliament in 1991 to oversee the ban of four specific dog breeds deemed a danger to the public.

However, statistics from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee show that hospital admissions for dog bites increased by 76% between 2006 and 2016. The RSPCA writes that while 30 people died between 1991 and 2016 in dog-related incidents, only nine of these attacks involved breeds currently on the dangerous dogs list.

As a result, the RSPCA has described the law as “unjust” and “not working”. Today the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee announced it would examine whether the controversial legislation needs to be overhauled.

What dogs are banned in the UK?

Upon its introduction 27 years ago, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 made it illegal for UK nationals to own four types of dogs traditionally bred for fighting.

These are the pit bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro and Dogo Argentino, all of which are known for their hunting abilities

A banned dog can be seized by the police or council “regardless of whether or not it is acting dangerously or a complaint has been made”.

If the animal is in a public place the police can confiscate it on the spot, while if it’s in a private home a warrant is required to confiscate it.

Once the animal has been examined by an expert, the dog will either be kept in kennels while the police apply to court or released.

If the dog is deemed to be a dangerous type, or its owners plead guilty in court, they could face an unlimited fine or up to six months in prison as well as the dog being put down.

Does the ban work?

Neil Parish, who chairs the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “Four types of dog were banned in the UK in 1991, but since then 70% of dog-related deaths have been caused by those not prohibited by legislation.

“There is evidence to suggest that we should account for the temperament of the dog when assessing its danger to society. There is also the view that some banned dog breeds can be suitable pets in certain circumstances.”

The RSPCA, which campaigns against breed-specific legislation such as the Dangerous Dogs Act, has branded the current rules ineffective. It says “huge numbers” of dogs have been destroyed “simply for looking a certain way”.

One of the charity’s dog welfare experts Samantha Gaines said she was “pleased” MPs had “listened to the serious concerns of animal welfare organisations”.

“We strongly believe that breed-specific legislation is ineffective at protecting the public and compromises dog welfare,” she added.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell called for a review two years ago, the BBC writes. He argued that the act was “simply not effective” and that the problem was “not with the dogs but with their owners”.

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