The flawed Dangerous Dogs Act is the subject of many committees, petitions and chat and we all live in hope that a law that blames the dogs whilst allowing owners to continue their abusive and antisocial behaviour will be changed.
However today a news report got me thinking….
There has long been criticism of and sometimes proof of the appalling conditions that seized dogs are kept in by the Police. Many contract this out to secret kennels and there appear to be no welfare checks by an independent person at any time. Even those who get their dogs back often get an emaciated, filthy dogs with unexplained sores and bald patches.
My first concern with this, as a behaviourist is that many of these dogs have to go through a temperament assessment to be released. The test is arbitrary, every behaviourist does their own version. Is this fair? Should there be a standardised test for these dogs?
The ongoing dispute over the Save Lennox case shows this very well, very different approaches to testing, one ignored by the judge, the other favoured but nobody is sure why.
Some of these cases, and remember this isn’t just Pit Bulls, any dog can be seized if “dangerously out of control in a public place” have happened because a person did something stupid and got bitten or threatened. Regardless of reason, many of these dogs are kennelled badly. Some with no proper bedding or heat, no toys or vet checks, no exercise or human attention. Is it any wonder so many dogs then fail temperament tests? Is this fair?
My concerns here are that I feel a standardised test should be introduced and that independent welfare checks should be allowed. More importantly, in the case of a dog reacting to human stupidity a type of temporary insanity or provocation defence should be allowed.
Even more important the assessments should take into account the conditions the dog has been kept in. Anything else is disgustingly unfair and not to understand that these conditions can affect a social, pet animal is wrong. Not to accept that the incredible stress from this abuse would affect even the nicest of dogs is a travesty of justice.
Human criminals get the benefit of insanity defences and treatment, dogs get killed.
Should we campaign for a standard test?
Should a type of provocation defense be allowed?
Should the disgusting and illegal kennel conditions be relevant to the assessment?
The RSPCA are soon to issue a report into welfare of seized dogs. Whether anyone takes notice remains to be seen, I have been trying today to pass on my thoughts. This news report from today is why I am so angry:
Please do contact us if you have any ideas, I have emailed a few useful people today.