Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
I am issuing this statement to advise that I have asked the RSPCA Cymru to undertake a review of responsible dog ownership in Wales and to provide me with their findings and recommendations after the summer recess.
The UK legislative changes brought forward via the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ASBCP Act) and the consequent amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 were informed by the policy development work that had been undertaken in Wales to support the (now withdrawn) draft Control of Dogs Bill. I am pleased that this work was used to good effect in helping to shape that legislation. As a result of that legislation, it is now an offence to own or be in charge of a dog that is dangerously out of control in any place, including all private property and extending the law to cover attacks on assistance dogs. The production of the separate Practitioner’s Guidance on Responsible Dog Ownership supporting the ASBCP Act was also a positive outcome.
Having said that I continue to hear concerns about the education and awareness of responsible dog ownership and I am determined to see what more we as the Welsh Government can do to support this agenda in Wales.
Therefore, following the coming in to force of the above UK legislative changes on dogs, I asked my officials to work closely with the RSPCA to agree the Terms of Reference for the review work. The RSPCA led Review on Responsible Dog Ownership will involve other interested parties including those in the third sector, schools, vets and local authorities. The Dogs Trust will be actively involved in taking this work forward.
I expect to receive recommendations about what can be done to raise awareness of responsible ownership based on sound evidence and using the most up to date information, including the Rapid Review of Deaths of Children from Dog Bites or Strikes produced by Public Health Wales last year.
As set out in the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework launched last year, the way we treat our animals is an important reflection of our society’s values. I am particularly looking forward to reading the findings of the review on how we can raise awareness of responsible dog ownership among children and young people as they have a long term role to play in driving up animal welfare standards.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.