USPCA call for IMMEDIATE Review of BSL (Breed Specific Legislation)

Hank is the victim of a law that makes a life or death decision based on breed and not on temperament.  If it is determined by an ‘expert’ that Hank is a Pitbull Terrier (or type thereof) a magistrate can order his destruction. An appeal will inevitably follow; court time and public money will be wasted as ‘experts’ argue over detail such as the dogs dimensions. Meanwhile Hank will remain incarcerated until a final decision is reached and it is an acknowledged fact that dogs respond badly to being caged. Can any legislation that determines guilt by appearance be considered just?Should a healthy companion animal be destroyed because of its physical characteristics? The response of the USPCA is an emphatic NO. We can think of no better example of judging a book by its cover that the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991. The Dangerous Dogs Legislation is now 25 years old. It was brought in at Westminster as a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to a series of high profile and appalling dog attacks on children and adults. The Law then filtered through to Northern Ireland. It is our opinion these attacks were carried out by animals whose temperament was compromised beyond repair by their reprehensible owners. The only ‘concession’ since the Orders introduction now allows for a Magistrate to make a Contingent Destruction Order on a dog which he considers to be a danger to the public OR, if he considers the dog poses no danger to the public, allows him to impose conditions on the dog which must be adhered to. Neutering, muzzling and kept on a leash whilst in a public place etc. If the conditions are adhered to within 2 months of a Magistrate’s decision, the Council may then issue a Certificate of Exemption to the owner and licence the dog. The USPCA accepts that large and powerful dogs such as Pitbull Terriers are NOT suitable companion animals for every family circumstance. They require understanding owners capable of controlling and caring for a breed that has many merits. It is high time this injustice is addressed and the USPCA is today contacting the Assembly All Party Group on Animal Welfare to lobby support for a radical change to the law. Changes that will allow dogs such as Hank to live out their lives with responsible and caring owners.