Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Muzzle It


I think today's government proposal for compulsory dog insurance is well meaning, but flawed. Most councillors will have encountered issues around anti-social behaviour involving dogs. The last time I did so, I was advised the problem was bad owners not bad dogs. Yet all too often when a child is savaged or killed we hear that the dog had never acted like that before.
There are bad dogs and worse dogs trained to behave badly. The Conservative response that this is a "Dog Tax" is ill thought out.
Nick Herbert, Tory shadow environment secretary, said:
“The problem of dangerous dogs is growing and the current legislation is clearly not working, but the Government's proposals risk penalisin millions of law-abiding dog owners with the blunt instrument of a dog tax. We should be targeting the minority of irresponsible dog owners, not the vast majority who are responsible dog lovers.”
That will not solve the problem. How many children is Nick Herbert prepared to see killed/maimed so that millions of people do not have to pay a dog tax? 5? 10? 15?
In my book the life of 1 child comes before 20 million dog owners being inconvenienced by a dog tax. I would suggest a different way forward, compulsory muzzles. When I visited Czechoslavakia as it then was 25 years ago this was the law. People were so much more relaxed around dogs. So there's a small one off "tax" - you have to buy a muzzle. But then everybody knows you have complied. The very visibility ensures that the policy is easily policed or reported by members of the public. No need to check for an insurance policy or microchipping, neither of which will stop dogs killing/maiming children. Does it help after your child is maimed/killed that there is a way of tracing the offending animal? I can't see it would be much comfort.
We all know the worst people will be most resistant to any legal proposal. Yes every dog owner is slightly inconvenienced, but it allows our children to play freely and safely in our public areas, and that for me must be our first consideration.

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