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Dangerous Dogs Act Breakthrough: RSPCA Back Calls For Immediate End to BSL

January 7, 2009 by Alison Green

In a landmark event, the UK’s largest animal welfare charity the RSPCA has joined forces with DDAWatch and the Coalition For improved Dog Ownership Standards (C-fidos) to publicly call for an end to the unfair law that results in dogs being deemed ‘dangerous’ as a result of their physical appearance.

For the first time, the UK’s most prominent animal welfare organisation has been prepared to publicly support calls for a repeal of section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) - Section 1 is the part of the legislation which bans dogs based on their breed or type.

Section 1 of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act is a highly controversial and widely criticised clause that promotes breed specific legislation. Many experts, law makers and dog lovers from around the UK and globally have seen the devastation caused by breed specific legislation - which outlaws dogs by ‘type’, meaning a dog is deemed ‘dangerous’ and illegal simply based on what it looks like and not because of any offence caused by the dog. As a result of breed specific legislation (BSL) in the UK, many innocent dogs have lost their lives since the law was brought in by Ken Baker in 1991.

Now the RSPCA has set the wheels in motion for other prominent welfare groups to come out and publicly call on the law makers to end section 1 and replace it with fair, effective dog laws which do not condemn dogs to death based on what the look like. The UK can put itself in a position to follow the example set by the Netherlands in repealing section 1 in favour of a law that will place the burden of responsibility on owners rather than terminating the lives of dogs who are guilty of nothing more than looking a certain way.

The move comes about following a productive and engaging meeting between the RSPCA’s Government Relations Manager, Claire Robinson, DDAWatch and the C- fidos at the end of 2008.

The RSPCA public backing for repeal gives anti BSL campaigners the boost they have been waiting for while sending a clear message to the Government that section 1 of the DDA is a failed, unfair concept that needs to be reformed without delay.

DDAWatch - an anti BSL campaign group - has congratulated the RSPCA on the decision to call for action having been previously disheartened to hear many organisations publicly state anti BSL positions but falling short of actually calling for an immediate repeal of section 1.

Alison Green of DDAWatch:
“We are so thrilled to see the RSPCA step up to the plate on such an important issue that has cost the lives of many innocent dogs. For those people who have been actively involved in fighting section 1 cases, for those of us who’ve seen dog owner’s lives ripped apart by this appalling law, which has not protected the public at all, this announcement from the RSPCA will hopefully herald the start of many more calls for repeal and eventually the repeal itself. Now owners and anti BSL campaigners alike have some hope to cling to after so many false dawns. Now we have the opportunity of a lifetime to finally get the Government to see sense. They need to listen to the RSPCA and make the right call. Section 1 has been an unmitigated failure and an animal welfare disaster. It is such a relief to hear the RSPCA being brave and honest enough to publicly call for a repeal where other influential and supposedly anti BSL organisations have fallen short, instead citing ‘political climate’ as a reason to keep BSL.”

Ryan O’Meara, chief executive of C-fidos:
“This is truly great news. It seems such a simple thing to do, to publicly support an end to BSL - especially given that the RSPCA and other major animal welfare organisations have publicly stated their position as being anti BSL - but despite the anti BSL positions held by many organisations and individuals we still have BSL and we have it because we still have section 1 of the DDA. The way to end BSL is to end section 1 and replace it. The RSPCA coming in with public support for the position held by C-fidos and DDAWatch gives legitimacy and momentum to campaigners to call on their government to end BSL. It’s no longer a concept, being anti BSL, it’s a real, tangible opportunity to call the government to account over a highly unfair, unpopular and completely unsuccessful law.”

For further details – please contact:
DDA Watch – Alison Green
Tel: 0844 844 2900 - Email:

Dogs - (Correct at time of publication)

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