Failed legislation (UPDATED 20/07/09)


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Given the recent attention paid to the poor application and use of UK legislation, it seems appropriate to mention issues related to another archaic act.

Perhaps once or twice every year, the broadcast or print media cover a story en masse relating to a dangerous dog or a breed which has been banned. In the UK, four breeds of dog were banned by the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), one of which was the Pit Bull Terrier.

Superficially, introducing legislation allegedly intended for the protection of animals and humans would seem a rational and sensibly cautious measure, however this blunt and inconsistently applied legislation has caused the suffering of considerable numbers of animals and numerous humans, all at cost the public purse.

One of the most recent examples of the inconsistency with the DDA is the case of Bruce , who, without further intervention, is now due to die on Monday 6th July (three days from today) as a direct result of living in a part of Ireland where the Pit Bull breed is also banned.

– Bruce has been professionally identified as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier (a breed not banned by the DDA), not a Pit Bull terrier
– Bruce is completely innocent. Bruce has demonstrated no aggressive tendencies and has not harmed anyone.
– Bruce was taken from his family and impounded nearly two years ago, having sustained injuries and an amputated tail whilst in confinement
– Importantly, Bruce has received an offer of sanctuary from the East Galway Animal Rescue centre (EGAR), a specialist in bull breeds, where he could live comfortably for the rest of his natural life in an area where even Pit Bulls have not been banned.

Concerningly, while the court ignored the medical evidence demonstrating that Bruce was not a banned breed, the Kennel Club create ‘experts’ to identify banned Pit Bull breeds through a course lasting only three and a half hours.

The issues above are only the start of the inconsistencies with the DDA: its concept and enforcement are fundamentally flawed.

I’m planning to research and write an article on the misapplication of legislation but would be interested in cases you feel exemplify this. Please do leave comments below or email me at digest [at]

In the mean time, please do spare a thought for Bruce. His campaign could benefit greatly from further support. The following page provides a little more information and a link to a petition, campaigning to permit his safe passage to the East Galway sanctuary.

EDIT 20/07/2009: It appears there is now confusion about whether the law regarding the DDA in Northern Ireland is in fact identical to the law in place in the UK. The situation for Bruce arose as a result of the alleged differences but it appears UK and Irish legislation may have been identical for the last eight years, yet no-one with responsibility realised. To follow this story and its developments, look at K9 magazine and subscribe to their free email newsletter here (top right).

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