HC Deb 27 July 1989 vol 157 cc855-6W
Mr. William Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will amend the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order (S.I., 1983, No. 764) by deleting at line 4 of section 33 the word "shall" and replacing it with the word "may" and by deleting the word "shall" at line 8 of the same section and replacing it by the word "may".

Mr. Peter Bottomley

No. The existing provisions of article 33 of the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 were designed to replace the permissive provisions of previous legislation which were clearly not having the desired effect of requiring dog owners to keep their animals under control. This was a matter of serious public concern at the time of making the order.

The reason for the inclusion of article 33 (1) in its mandatory form was to effect the removal of an anomaly in the existing law whereby humans did not have the same protection from attack as livestock.

Before the introduction of the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 the provisions of the Dogs Act 1906 as amended by the Livestock (Protection from Dogs) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968, section 3, required courts to order the destruction of a dog which had caused injury to sheep. There was no comparable provision for humans and this, naturally, led to considerable Government and public concern when biting dogs were free to repeat their attacks. This point was also reflected in the report of the 1976 working party on dogs.

The making of a destruction order does not, of course, necessarily mean that a dog will automatically be put down since the Dogs Order makes provision for appeal.