DEFRA’s consultation on dangerous dogs, which included controversial proposals for compulsory microchipping and insurance, closed last week.

The consultation was launched by the previous Labour Government in response to the growing problem of “status dogs” used predominately in inner-city estates by criminals to intimidate and harass members of the public. Addressing Parliament last Monday DEFRA minister Caroline Spelman MP implied continued support for the review of current legislation when she listed dangerous dogs as a key priority for her department: “On the question of dangerous dogs, I give the commitment that we will tackle the conduct of their owners and require greater responsibility from them.”

When the consultation document was published many commentators expressed concern that some of the proposed changes to legislation contained within it would penalise law-abiding dog owners. Speaking to Shooting Times before the election, farming minister Jim Paice MP rejected mandatory microchipping. “We wish to find new ways to encourage owners to microchip their dogs but are not persuaded of the need for compulsion.”

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was among those bodies which voiced concerns. It described its recent submission to the consultation as a robust response on behalf of owners of working dogs and called for compulsory microchipping and insurance to be dropped on the grounds that: both of these options would impose mandatory and expensive burdens on literally millions of owners of completely safe, normal dogs.

The rest of this article appears in 9th June issue of Shooting Times.

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