HC Deb 18 July 1996 vol 281 cc605-6W
Mr. Nigel Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many dangerous dogs have been registered under the Dangerous Dogs Acts; and how many people have been(a) injured and (b) killed by dogs in each year since 1988; [38009]

(2) what plans he has to extend the categories of dog in the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Acts; [38007]

(3) if he will make a statement on the operation of the Dangerous Dogs Acts; [38006]

(4) what plans he has to make ownership of a dangerous dog, as specified under the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Acts, illegal; and if he will make a statement. [38008]

Mr. Sackville

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 imposed controls on dogs bred for fighting. The dogs so designated are the types known as the pit bull terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero. There are no plans to extend this designation.

Section 1 of the Act makes it an offence to possess a designated type of dog unless the owner had the dog registered, neutered, tattooed, and insured by 30 November 1991. It is also an offence to allow such a dog to be in a public place without being muzzled or on a lead. A total of 8,600 pit bull terriers were notified to the police and the index of exempted dogs. Of these, 5,223 were issued with certificates of exemption, of which 3,609 are currently valid.

Section 3 of the Act also created new offences, applying to all types of dog, of owning or being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place. A conviction for an offence in respect of one of the designated types of dog or for any dog not kept under proper control, and when there is an injury to the person, results in mandatory destruction of the dog. These provisions are intended to encourage more responsible dog ownership.

Information on attacks by dogs is not collected centrally. The Act has resulted in a substantial reduction in pit bull ownership, in line with eliminating this type of dog in the United Kingdom. The Government remain committed to the objectives of the Act and have no plans to amend the law.