Published on 24th April 2023
Early on a Saturday morning in November 2010, as a new MP I was campaigning in Blackwood. Little did I know, I would spend the day in hospital having my hand stitched up after I was bitten by a dog which was behind a letter box. I was extremely fortunate. I was left with a small scar on my finger.
Since that Saturday nearly 13 years ago, dog attacks have been on the rise. More than 100 people each week in the United Kingdom suffer injuries so severe from a dog attack that they are admitted into hospital.
Since 2013, the number of admissions to hospital for dog bites has risen by 30% from 6,640 to 8,655.
It is clear something needs to change. In Parliament this month I attended an event hosted by my colleague Caerphilly MP, Wayne David. I heard from groups of animal charities who are campaigning for reform and consolidation of dog control legislation and the Breed Specific Legislation to be replaced by breed neutral legislation.
I also heard how the legislation has led to thousands of prohibited dogs being euthanized unnecessarily, as it is illegal to rehome prohibited dogs to new owners, even when they pose no behavioral threat to the public.
The police are working hard to crack down on dangerous dogs in the area but nationally they must be given more powers to tackle this situation and prevent injury.
It is evident that the current Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) does not work and has not reduced hospital admissions from dog bites, nor has it improved public safety.
The current legislation also does nothing to reduce the breeds or types of dogs it legislates against. As the current system is based on physical characteristics, it is arbitrary and unfair. Dogs are solely judged on whether or not they look like they will be dangerous. The truth is, any dog in the wrong hands can be dangerous.
The Welsh Government announced in February that officials are looking at the reintroduction of dog licensing to clamp down on dangerous dogs. We must place more responsibility onto dog owners and ensure those who do not train their dogs properly and safely are not allowed to own dogs.
There has been too much tragedy around this issue, we need change and we need it now.