Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food
In May 2013, I announced the Welsh Government would suspend the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill from the Welsh Government’s Legislative Programme. This was pending the introduction of the Home Office Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2014 (ASBCP Bill ) and the draft supporting manual “Tackling irresponsible dog ownership” which included many of the issues the draft Welsh Bill contained.
The ASBCP Bill received Royal Assent earlier this year and I am pleased to say the elements relating to Dangerous Dogs came into force on the 14 May. These new powers are broader and more stringent in addressing the issue of attacks and a link to the Defra website explaining the range of these powers is given below.
It is worth noting that the inclusion of powers to deal with attacks on private property and attacks on assistance dogs are included within the Anti-social, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ASBCP Act) as a direct result of the collaborative work with the Welsh Government on this piece of legislation.
The powers to deal with anti-social behaviour and dog owners will come into force later this year. In the meantime guidance for enforcement agencies is being developed – again jointly with the Welsh Government.
We made a commitment to retain the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill until such time as we were satisfied that the ASBCP Act would meet the needs of Wales. I recently commissioned a detailed comparison on the two pieces of legislation and I am content that the ASBCP Act and the supporting guidance can meet Welsh needs. It includes powers to deal with:
- low level incidences of dogs who are causing concern in public/private places;
- attacks on guidance dogs; and
- the issue of irresponsible ownership whilst ensuring the welfare of a dog is also taken into consideration.
I felt that these actions, combined with close working with the enforcers of the ASBCP Act, in the local authorities, police force and other key organisations, will provide an impetus for change and further enhance the expectations in Wales regarding responsible ownership.
I therefore confirm the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill will be removed from the Welsh Government’s Legislative Programme.
Because the UK legislation does not have the same priority on responsible dog ownership as the policy intent behind the Welsh Government's Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill, I have accepted the RSPCA Cymru's offer to take forward a piece of work to provide me with advice on this matter. I expect them to work with relevant interested parties in the third sector and the local authorities in Wales who are responsible for enforcement, welfare and education issues.
I will receive their report in the autumn. The report will then be considered by the Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group. I will advise Members of further actions later in the autumn.