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Mixed views on BSL response
Currently it is illegal to transfer banned breeds to a new keeper, which forces animal welfare charities to euthanise dogs of these breeds, regardless of their temperament.
‘Disappointment’ that breed ban will remain 

Vets and animal welfare charities have said they are “disappointed” that the government will not review breed specific legislation (BSL), which makes it illegal to own four types of dog.

The government recently responded to an inquiry by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee, which called for an overhaul of Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, also known as BSL.

Critics have called for the ban on certain breeds to be overturned, as evidence suggests it is harmful to dog welfare and has failed to protect the public. However, the government said the ban will remain in place ‘for reasons of maintaining public safety’.

Dr Samantha Gaines, RSPCA dog welfare expert, commented: “We are extremely disappointed that the Government is still suggesting that prohibited types of dogs are more dangerous than other types of dogs and that they are involved in a disproportionately high number of attacks on people, including fatalities. The RSPCA, in its evidence to EFRA, made it very clear that in the absence of robust data around the dog population such claims cannot be made and it is misleading to do so.”

‘Flawed’ legislation
The Efra Committee recommended an overhaul of the ban on transferring Section 1 dogs to new owners. Currently it is illegal to transfer banned breeds to a new keeper, which forces animal welfare charities to euthanise dogs of these breeds, regardless of their temperament.

Responding, the government confirmed there are no plans to review this legislation, so the law as it stands will remain.

Battersea’s chief executive Claire Horton said: “Despite many experts testifying to the EFRA Committee that there was a need to review BSL, the Government has failed to give any convincing evidence to back up their decision to leave this flawed legislation unchanged. Worst of all, the Government’s stance means dogs on their banned breed list will still have to be destroyed, based purely on what a dog looks like and not on what it’s actually done.”

‘A step in the right direction’
However, the BVA, Efra Committee and numerous animal welfare charities welcomed other aspects of the government’s response, including its commitment to develop a plan of action to teach children about safety around dogs.

The government also said it has commissioned research projects to advise on improving responsible dog ownership and to assess the effectiveness of current dog control measures. It will also look at developing a centralised database of dog bites, their severity and circumstances.

BVA president Simon Doherty said: “We are disappointed that the Government has not listened to the evidence provided by us and other animal welfare organisations against the effectiveness of a breed-specific ban on dogs. However, it is at least encouraging that it has commissioned research to assess the effectiveness of current dog control measures and examine factors that may cause dog attacks.”

Efra Committee chair Neil Parish MP also welcomed aspects of the government’s response, but added: “There is much more work to be done to create a truly fair system. There must be more focus on the owner and not the breed. The destruction of a dog based purely on its breed is cruel and often unnecessary.

“Although the government recognises the importance of improving how dangerous dogs are identified and controlled, today’s response is not a solution, but is a step in the right direction. 

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Stephen Fry lends voice to frog conservation film

News Story 1
 Comedian and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a new animation that hopes to raise awareness of deadly ranavirus, which is threatening the UK’s frogs.

Research by ZSL, who created the short film, suggests that at least 20 per cent of ranavirus cases over the past three decades, could be attributed to human introductions. This includes pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn and plants from other environments.

Amphibian disease expert Dr Stephen Price said: “People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them elsewhere will also help.” 

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Scotland to fund OV training

The Scottish Government has revealed it will fund training for new Official Veterinarians (OVs), covering the Essential Skills, Statutory Surveillance and TB Testing.

Funding will also be provided for the revalidation of Essential Skills, as well as TB Testing for existing OVs. This is the second round of financial support from the Scottish Government for OVs.

BVA president Simon Doherty said he is “delighted” with the announcement.

“Official Veterinarians’ work in safeguarding animal health and welfare and ensuring food safety is invaluable,” he added. “This announcement has come at a crucial time, with Brexit and an uncertain future ahead, the role of OVs will be more important than ever in enabling the UK’s trade in animal products.