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Criminologists speak out on BSL
‘The UK does not have laws that discriminate against human children of criminals, in fear that they may also offend.'
Legislation ‘not in keeping with how humans are dealt with by the law’ 

Criminologists are calling for a move away from banning certain ‘dangerous’ breeds of dog in the UK, and focusing more on the way we, as a society, treat animals.

Dr Adam Lynes and Jenna Page, who are both lecturers in criminology at Birmingham City University, issued a statement on the current controversy over breed specific legislation (BSL), which bans four types of dog.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into BSL, which has been criticised for failing to protect the public from dog attacks, as well as negative impacts on dog welfare. Animal rights group, PETA, however, recently called for Staffordshire bull terriers to be added to the banned list.

Lynes and Page argue that BSL - which has led to hundreds of pet dogs being killed, not because of their behaviour, but because of their heritage - is not in keeping with how UK legislation treats humans.

They wrote: ‘The UK does not have laws that discriminate against human children of criminals, in fear that they may also offend. Whilst such positivistic notions were once a popular theoretical position in the early 19th century, criminology and the criminal justice system has since moved away from such deterministic and simplistic notions.

“Our criminal law system is deed (or attempted deed) orientated which is rooted in one of the most important tenets of the criminal justice system: innocent until proven guilty. Sadly, BSL does not extend this closely guarded principle to dogs.”

They further point out that there are ‘astonishingly’ high numbers of recorded animal cruelty cases. In 2017 alone, the RSPCA emergency helpline received over one million calls about animal cruelty and 141,000 cases were investigated.

With this in mind, they said ‘it is clear that perhaps the focus should shift from these supposedly dangerous breeds, and instead ask important questions about how we, as a society, are treating animals more generally.’

BSL critics also argue that since the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force in 1991, hospital admissions due to injuries inflicted by dogs rose by 76 per cent between 2005 and 2015. Furthermore, 21 out of 30 human deaths caused by dog attacks since 1991 involved non-banned breeds.

There are rising calls for the legislation to focus on ‘deed not breed’, making dog owners and handlers responsible for their dogs, rather than banning certain breeds.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”