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Charity calls for change to law

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THE RSPCA HAVE released a new report which exposes the ineffectiveness, flaws and negative impact of the breed specific law. 

This week marks 25 years since the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991 which applies breed specific legislation – BSL- via Section One. The RSPCA is now calling for a UK Government inquiry into its effectiveness.

This week they have released a report ‘Breed Specific Legislation: A Dog’s Dinner’.

This shows the weaknesses in breed specific legislation as it has failed to meet its goals of improving public safety by reducing the number of dog bites and eliminating dogs that are prohibited. Indeed, more dog bites are reported now than ever before and the numbers of prohibited dogs continue to rise.

Many organisations agree that a breed specific approach is failing to protect public safety as dog bites continue to rise.

It also has a negative impact on dog welfare. Because of Section One of the DDA, the RSPCA in England and Wales has been forced to put to sleep 366 dogs over the past two years.

RSPCA dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: “The police, the RSPCA and other animal rescue organisations have to deal with the consequences of this flawed law by euthanising hundreds of dogs because legislation is forcing us to due to the way they look, despite being suitable for rehoming. Not only is this a huge ethical and welfare issue, it also places significant emotional strain on staff.

“It is the view of the RSPCA, and the public, that every animal’s life matters.

“We conclude that breed specific legislation has not achieved its objectives whilst causing unintended harms. A new approach is required.

“The RSPCA believes it is paramount for the Government to launch an inquiry into the effectiveness of BSL, assess other options to improve human safety and dog welfare, and ultimately repeal the breed specific part of the legislation.”

The report raises concerns that there is a lack of evidence to support BSL and that there are also issues around the evidence required to designate a dog as being of prohibited type. There are also concerns over the potential to mislead the public that non-prohibited dogs are always safe, and our primary concern is BSL’s impact on dog welfare and owner suffering.

Despite many countries using BSL, there is a lack of evidence to show that it reduces dog bites.

Several studies have shown that BSL has not reduced dog bites in countries abroad.

The number of hospital admissions due to dog bites rose from 4,110 (March 2005) to 7,227 (February 2015) and continue to rise.

BSL is now being reviewed worldwide and has been reversed by three European governments and many US administrations following studies. A 2010 Defra consultation in England revealed that 88% of respondents felt BSL was not effective in protecting the public, and 71% felt it should be repealed.

Television personality and dog behaviour expert Victoria Stilwell agrees with the RSPCA that BSL is ineffective, outdated and flawed, saying: “BSL tears apart families while punishing innocent dogs and their guardians solely because of a dog’s appearance. Any dog can bite under the right circumstances, so legislation should focus on protecting the public through responsible pet guardianship rather than targeting a particular breed.”

The Dog’s Dinner report shows a number of cases from other countries, including Canada, where a reduction in dog bites has been achieved, not by BSL, but by focusing on improving responsible dog ownership. There are already mechanisms in the legislation to improve human safety.

These should be prioritised as well as a focused education campaign, particularly aimed at children.

As well as being ineffective at protecting public safety, BSL raises serious dog welfare concerns and causes trauma to owners who are affected.

“The process of seizing a dog suspected of being prohibited and the stress associated with a kennel environment can compromise the dog’s welfare,” Dr Gaines added.

“The impact on dog welfare and owner well-being has been very much hidden but it is clear that BSL comes at a significant cost to many who would not ordinarily come into contact with the police or courts.

“Until such time that BSL is repealed, there needs to be urgent action to protect the welfare of dogs affected by this law. In the absence of any evidence to show that BSL is effective in safeguarding public safety, it is the very least that we can do for man’s best friend.”

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Aberystwyth waste pilot launched

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AN innovative pilot scheme has been launched in North Parade, Aberystwyth to help promote positive waste behaviours in the town centre.

The initiative sees communal wheelie bins being delivered to the pilot area on the afternoon before the usual scheduled waste collections. The bins provide a means of containing the waste for the time between it being presented and being collected. Protecting the waste from attack by animals, including seagulls, will help keep the town centre’s streets clean.

The new approach will also help support more local residents, especially those living in properties where space to store waste is limited, to make full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collection services. Reducing the amount of recyclable waste that goes into black bags is not only better for the environment but it also helps ensure it is dealt with in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

The days and frequency of waste collections will remain the same with wheelie bins being provided each week for clear recycling bags and food waste and fortnightly for black bags. Waste should be presented in the correct wheelie bin by 8am on the day collection.

Once the waste is collected the wheelie bins are removed which avoids problems that would arise if they were left there permanently which includes causing unnecessary street clutter and obstructions as well as potentially being misused and attracting fly-tipping.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards, the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services, said: “I am fully supportive of this initiative. It is an example of the Council working in partnership with communities on resolving issues. I wish the initiative every success and look forward in the future, to further working closely with our communities on finding creative solutions to the issues we are all concerned about.”

The scheme started on August 6-7. If it proves to be successful, consideration will be given to extending the pilot to other areas where it may work. Consideration is also being given to other ways of further supporting positive waste behaviours in Aberystwyth and Ceredigion in general ahead of a new domestic waste collection system that will be introduced in 2019.

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Consultation on future of gas network for west Wales enters final week

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PEOPLE from west Wales are being urged to have their say as a public consultation on the future of the local gas network is set to close on Friday (Aug 17).

Wales & West Utilities look after the pipes that bring gas to homes and businesses across Wales and the south west of England. The company has received almost 20,000 responses to its consultation but is now urging as many people as possible to take two minutes to pipe up and shape its plans for the future. Everyone who completes the consultation will be entered into a weekly draw to win a £100 Amazon Gift Card.

The company is asking people to give their views on issues such as the gas emergency service, investment to keep the gas network safe and reliable and how it supports those most in need. It is also seeking views on preparing the gas network for a greener future, making sure it can continue to deliver essential services for generations to come.

Wales & West Utilities charge for their services through consumer gas bills. Currently, their services make up 20% of an annual gas bill – so for the average gas bill of £630, that’s £128 a year – or 35 pence per day.

Graham Edwards, Chief Executive at Wales & West Utilities, explains: “The pipes we look after are mostly underground and out of mind, but we provide an essential service in keeping people safe and warm in their homes and powering businesses. Now, as we plan for the future, we want as many people in West Wales as possible to have their say on the future of their gas network and the services we provide.”

“This consultation is about ensuring our customers’ views are heard so that we plan and work towards getting the balance right between investing to maintain and improve our services and preparing the gas network for the future, while keeping bills low.

“We understand the financial pressure households across the area are under and we remain committed to keeping our portion of the gas bill to a minimum – we have already reduced the cost of our services since 2013 from £145 to £128 today.

“We’re looking forward to hearing customer feedback from West Wales as this will play a vital role in shaping our business for the future.”

Wales & West Utilities also connects around 11,000 homes and businesses to the network each year. And, for customers in need of extra support, the company has a scheme offering low-cost gas connections and financial help for appliance repairs. There is also a priority register to make sure people in vulnerable situations are prioritised when things go wrong.

To have your say on the future of your gas network and the services Wales & West Utilities provides please go to PipeUpOnline.co.uk or Facebook.com/wwutilities and be in with a chance to win a £100 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card.

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Elin Jones welcomed to Gorsedd as ‘Elin Ceredigion’

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AT THIS year’s National Eisteddfod, held in Cardiff Bay, Elin Jones, AM for Ceredigion, was welcomed into the Gorsedd.

The ceremony of the Gorsedd of the Bards is an integral part of the National Eisteddfod, and honours people who have made a significant contribution to the Welsh language and to Wales. Upon being admitted to the Gorsedd, the member is able to choose their ‘Bardic name’. Elin Jones has chosen to be known as Elin Ceredigion.

Elin Jones said: “It’s an honour to be admitted to the Gorsedd at this year’s National Eisteddfod, and to be known there as Elin Ceredigion.

“This was a very different and diverse National Eisteddfod. People from all over Wales and from many different cultures were able to see the Welsh Language thriving.

“The National Eisteddfod is important in whichever part of Wales it may be held. In two years’ time, it will be in Tregaron in Ceredigion which will be equally as exciting and important an Eisteddfod.

“The Gorsedd will next meet in Ceredigion in July 2019 – to proclaim the 2020 Ceredigion Eisteddfod.”

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