Dangerous dogs law under CWU scrutiny at Select Committee
With concerns about dangerous dogs legislation on the rise, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) was due on Wednesday to address the Parliamentary Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Changes to the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, which have been implemented in Scotland and Northern Ireland and are due in Wales later this year, have been drawn up largely in response to the growing problem of 'weapon' dogs - animals bred for aggression by irresponsible owners.
According to the CWU, 70% of dog attacks
on its members occur on private property, where because the law is currently invalid, the owners of dangerous animals are able to evade responsibility.
Dave Joyce, the CWU's health, safety and environment officer, was due to address the Commons Committee on behalf of the 200,000-strong union membership, which includes postal workers and employees in telecoms and financial services.
"It's good to have the opportunity to give evidence at this Committee on a wide range of dogs' issues," Mr Joyce said. "I hope the evidence will convince the Committee that urgent action is needed to rescue our failing dogs' laws."
The union seeks effective UK-wide laws to prevent dog attacks on, among others, children, postal workers and telecoms engineers. The legislation should include measures to make owners more accountable for the actions of their dogs and be extended to private property, compulsory microchipping and judging animals as much on behaviour as on breed.
"We also need better enforcement of these laws, by giving more power and support to police and dog wardens," Mr Joyce added. "These changes would both deal with offences and also act as a deterrent and help to change the behaviour of dog owners."
Last on Mr Joyce's agenda are concerns over changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, which the union believes will exclude dog attack victims from receiving compensation.
"These most vulnerable people have nowhere else to turn because the scheme only caters for those who cannot get compensation through prosecution – because the dog owner is insolvent for example – and this cut will leave injured victims struggling to cope."