Countryside Alliance Director of Campaigns Tim Bonner writes: Legislation on dogs has proved hazardous ground for politicians from the Dog Licence to the Dangerous Dogs Act. When the British obsession with canines comes up against our law makers problems usually ensue. There is, however, clearly a problem with some dogs, and more specifically some dog owners, and their impact on neighbours and wider communities. A few cases are immeasurably worse and, as we have seen on several occasions recently, dogs can kill. There are already laws which could address at least some of this behaviour, although they can be difficult to enforce, but politicians faced with a problem will always come up with new laws and that is what this Government has just done.
Additional powers were granted to the police and local authorities last month under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, designed to give them greater flexibility when dealing with irresponsible dog owners and incidents involving dogs. These powers include acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs), community protection notices (CPNs) and public spaces protection orders (PSPOs).
The Act has also amended the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, making it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control on private land, even where it has the right to be. Previously this part of the law only applied to public places.
The Alliance has kept a very close eye on the development of the legislation and these laws should not, therefore, pose a problem for responsible dog owners. Those who are using hounds, gundogs and other working dogs in a proper manner should have no concerns about the new powers.
If, however, hunts, shoots or other people using dogs and hounds lawfully in the countryside feel they are being unjustly targeted they should get in touch with us straight away and we will make sure the new powers are being properly applied.