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Friday, 22 June 2012

Gavin Grant's Blog on Responsible Dog Ownership

Regardless of what you may think of the RSPCA as a whole, the outlines for the overhaul in legislation in Gavin Grant's blog make sense EXCEPT for making people responsible for the actions of their dogs within their own home...  In gardens?  Yes; we have to protect postal workers and other people who have valid access to our front door, but behind the front door?  No.  For me, this is a sacrosanct, private, family area in which every member of the family - INCLUDING THE FAMILY DOG - should be able to feel safe.  

I know that the proposed legislation changes allow for the event of a dog biting someone with unauthorised access to the house (i.e. a burglar), but we already know that ambiguous wording of an Act can give clever lawyers a chance to take advantage, especially where dogs are concerned.

Contrary to popular opinion there is ALREADY perfectly usable legislation in place to prosecute owners of dogs who harm people within the home.

The Dogs Act 1871

I deter visitors to my home as much as possible because I'm looking after a dog that needs to have one place in the world where he feels safe.  On the rare occasion I have to allow workmen into the home for essential works, I take the day off work and sit at my desk working with the dog at my feet or in his bed behind a closed door to 'show' him that there's no need to be anxious.  At no point do I 'allow' him to make a mistake and put someone with approved access to our home into fear. However, what I would not tolerate, and would resent enormously, would be someone who ignored my advice as to how to behave in MY home to keep the dog calm and stress-free and then felt they could have me charged under some law because THEY made the mistake that made the dog feel threatened.

I may be in the minority, but members of my family - even temporary ones like foster dogs - come first in their own home.  

I'm just worried that a blanket law stating that a dog is guilty until proved innocent is going to lead to exactly the same problems as we now have with the DDA...