Alan Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food
The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring that out-of-control and dangerous dogs are dealt with effectively. We are committed to a statutory framework that will make it unlawful for dogs to be dangerously out-of-control on private premises. We are also committed to protection for assistance dogs, for example guide dogs and hearing dogs, as well as a statutory training and dog welfare regime.
I have given careful consideration to how these objectives could best be achieved so that our children, families and communities are better protected. I am also committed to the long term cultural change which cannot be achieved by legislation alone but will address the root causes of the problem by promoting responsible dog ownership.
On 23 November 2012, the then Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development published the Draft Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill for consultation. It sought the views of key stakeholders and the people of Wales on the Welsh Government’s proposals for new laws to deal with out of control and dangerous dogs and to promote more responsible dog ownership. The consultation closed on 1 March 2013.
I am today publishing a summary of the responses to the consultation. I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to respond to these proposals. I have been encouraged by a broad base of support for new legislation in this area and I am grateful to all for their responses especially those from children and young people. I am also grateful to the RSPCA, the Dogs Trust, the police and local authorities for the way in which they have worked with us to develop our approach and thinking on this matter.
It has become clear to me as I have reviewed this work and have listened to the consultation responses that there may be benefits to working with the UK Government to take forward our proposals on a Wales and England basis. I have reviewed the provisions of the draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill published by the Home Office and, whilst I accept many of the criticisms made of this draft bill, I nevertheless believe that it may provide a useful vehicle to fulfil our ambitions. To this end I will seek agreement with the Home Office that, if this bill is taken forward, then I will seek regulation-making powers for Wales which will allow us to shape the proposed legislation in such a way as to meet both our objectives and also the wider aims of the Home Office. Therefore I have, for the moment, suspended further work on the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill.
In discussions with the Home Office and Defra, it has become clear that there may be value in a joint collaborative approach. I will continue discussions with the UK Government with a view to considering whether early UK Parliamentary legislation would be the best vehicle to take forward our proposals in a coherent way. We will continue to work with Defra to ensure that their proposals to amend the Dangerous Dogs Act will include provision to make it an offence for dogs to be out-of-control on private premises and provide protection for assistance dogs. I retain the option of introducing a Welsh bill if we are unable to reach agreement on these UK legislative options.