Scottish SPCA launches campaign to review 30-year-old law meaning American Pit Bulls and 3 other breeds must be euthanized if they end up in care

The Scottish SPCA has launched its ‘No Bad Breed’ campaign urging members of the public to sign a petition asking for a review of the Dangerous Dogs Act which came into force 30 years ago.

The legislation bans the ownership for four dog breeds in the UK - Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro and the American Pit Bull. The ban means that any of these animals which come into the care of the Scottish SPCA must be put to sleep, regardless of temperament or suitability for adoption.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent, Mike Flynn, said: “While we fully support legislation to protect the public, we believe any breed of dog can be potentially out of control and dangerous in the wrong hands. We’d like to see a bigger focus on legislation that ensures responsible dog ownership rather than punishing individual dogs for the way they look if they haven’t harmed anyone.

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“We’d urge the government to review this legislation as it is now 30 years old and, in our eyes, not fit for purpose. We want to see section one of the legislation scrapped so that dogs are judged on ‘deed not breed’, meaning dogs are only put to sleep if they’ve attacked someone rather than just because they are a certain type of dog.

Doyle the American Pit Bull. Pic: Scottish SPCA

“At the very least we’d like to see the law amended so banned breeds and types who come into our care can be rehomed. We would like to see courts take into account the agency who has cared for the dog, whether that’s ourselves or another reputable rescue organisation, so that these animals can be declared exempt.

“Our teams can then use their expert knowledge to assess the dog behaviourally and make sure they are found an appropriate home with the experience required to care for these dogs responsibly.

“Especially in the case of pit bulls, where whether or not the dog is a banned type is determined by a set of measurements rather than any kind of identifiable breed standard. Often these measurements can’t be properly determined until the dog is fully grown so people can own a pit bull and not even be aware of it.

“Our teams often care for these dogs for months or even years while waiting for court proceedings to conclude, only to have to put them to sleep as they can’t legally be adopted.

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn with Monty the Golden Labrador. Pic: Peter Devlin

“Often these dogs have great temperaments and no behavioural issues but still need to be euthanized when, if they were any other breed, they’d be off to a loving home. It’s heart-breaking for everyone involved.”

‘Absolutely devastating’

Since 2013 the SSPCA has been forced to euthanize 24 pit bulls who have come into their care after being identified as a banned type. One of these dogs was Doyle, a dog determined to be a pit bull type who was in the care of the Society’s Lanarkshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre for 58 days before being put to sleep in November 2018.

Scottish SPCA animal care assistant, Mica Sinforiani, said: “Doyle was a bit nervous when he first came into the centre and would bark and run away from us. After a week of myself and another staff member working with him he soon decided we weren’t so scary after all.

“He loved running around with his toys but most of all he loved getting attention from the team. He took everything in his stride and adored every person and dog he met while he was here.

“I feel lucky to have met him and I cherish the memories I have of him every day.

“It was absolutely devastating to have cared for Doyle for all that time only to have to put him to sleep. As a Society we never want to put a healthy animal down so it goes against all your instincts to take a perfectly happy, healthy dog who would do really well in a new adoptive home and euthanize them.

“Every time a dog comes into the centre who is deemed to be a pit bull it’s the same story and it’s so upsetting and distressing for the whole team.

“We just hope that the government will see sense and review the legislation so no more dogs have to suffer the same fate as Doyle.”

Members of the public can sign the Scottish SPCA’s No Bad Breed petition here: https://bit.ly/3CuLZlz

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