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Daily View: Controlling dogs

Clare Spencer | 10:41 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

dogGovernment proposals up for consultation try to tackle dangerous dogs by suggesting dogs are microchips, they have compulsory third party insurance and a dog Asbo is introduced. Commentators dissect the plans.

The Independent's editorial dismisses the idea of dog insurance to cover compensation to people who are bitten:

"This time what will happen is that millions of law-abiding dog owners will stump up for the insurance, with much grumbling, while the bad owners of badly-behaved dogs will ignore the law, much as many of them do with the obligation to insure their car. There will be much complaint about yet another unnecessary burden for the majority which will be ignored by the minority who cause the problems."

Michael White in the Guardian points out that dogs have always been a divisive issue:

"It has been so since MPs first tried to curb fierce, unmuzzled dogs in public places in 1839. The police power to judge a dog both dangerous, not under proper control and liable to be destroyed dates from the 1871 Dogs Act. Respectable Victorians were very snifffy about the 'mongrels' of the poor."

Michele Hanson in the Guardian says current proposals are unenforceable:

"Sadly, unlike the dogs, the law has no teeth. You can't take someone's dog and microchip it without permission, or enter a house, stop the home-breeding and neuter the dogs, and vets can't report dogs injured in fights, and the bad owners know this. So perhaps the government needs to toughen up on dog owners and ignore the whingeing 'good' owners who are worried they'll be penalised along with the nasty ones."

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail sees some negative long term consequences from the regulations:

"Not for the first time, an extreme of behaviour (the 'devil dogs') seems set to make life considerably more tiresome for the generally harmless majority. The state and its busybody offshoots will prosper. Another little slice of liberty will shrivel.
And in the end, I suspect, lots of us will simply deduce that it is not worth owning dogs. Postmen will cheer but for millions of others, the dog basket will fall silent and life will be less fun."

In the Times Roy Hattersley admits his dog killed a swan, but he is concerned new regulations are scaremongering:

"Owning a dog is, or ought to be, one of the joys of life: an extra dimension of love, care and friendship. No matter how much Alan Johnson dresses up his statement in canine-friendly language, he is encouraging canine-phobia. That may be the right political response to prejudiced newspaper pictures of snarling pitbull terriers. But it will deny a lifetime of pleasure to thousands of girls and boys who are encouraged to believe that every dog is closely related to the Hound of the Baskervilles."

The Telegraph editorial suggests the proposed legislation would cause hassle for the wrong people:

"We all know, too, that the bureaucracy needed to oversee this system will grow in size and expense. In fact, this is about a failure of policing, not of administration. The reason why the number of "weapons dogs" has grown in our inner cities is because the streets have been turned over to the thug. Responsible dog owners should not be made to suffer because the Government has failed in its fundamental duty to provide law and order."

Fraser Nelson in the Spectator suggests that the reasons why people use dogs as weapons should be examined:

"I bet that, in vast numbers of council estates, violent crime has doubled. So, sure, it's deplorable that people are using dogs to protect themselves. But we should spend a while asking why they think they have to. Consider the microsociety these people live in: welfare ghettoes where violent crime has soared, a rise always underplayed by the national statistics because it's countered by a fall in crime in rich areas which are always better policed."

Links in full

IndependentIndependent | Bring back the dog licence
GuardianMichael White | Guardian | Dangerous dogs - a bone of contention since 1839
GuardianMichele Hanson | Guardian | Let's get draconian on the dog problem
MailQuentin Letts | Daily Mail | Why should I pay for the crimes of devil dog owners?
MailAndrew Malone | Daily Mail | A weapon on a lead, the petty criminal's best friend
MailHarry Phibbs | Daily Mail | 'Devil dogs' are a symptom, not the cause of our broken society
TimesRoy Hattersley | Times | Dog curbs are barking up the wrong tree
TelegraphTelegraph | Penalising responsible dog owners is wrong
SpectatorFraser Nelson | Spectator | Tough on dangerous dogs, blind to the causes
TelegraphTracy Corrigan | Telegraph | I've never seen a pit bull-toting pensioner

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