A Labour government that has never been afraid to legislate over just about every aspect of daily life has been curiously inactive on the modern fad for using certain breeds of dog as macho status symbols.
If you’re a day late paying your TV licence the man from the detector van will be knocking on your door. Get caught having a quiet smoke in the wrong place or driving too quickly past one speed camera too many
and the forces of Brown’s state will come down on you.
But if you are a young thug with a record for violence there is absolutely nothing to stop you acquiring and training an animal for use as a dangerous weapon.
My council in south London has recently launched a boroughwide
micro-chipping scheme to tackle the problem of aggressive dogs on our
estates. The service is free and applies to animals owned by tenants,
leaseholders and anyone living with them.
It means if a dog is lost we can reunite with its owner very quickly.
But, crucially, in cases where the animal is involved in an attack we
can identify the owner and get on with a prosecution.
We are working with the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs Home on the new
initiative. The Dogs Home have an overcrowding problem at present,
partly due to the growing number of these ‘status symbol’ dogs being
Microchipping will, for the first time, give us a register of all the
dogs on our estates. The scheme is possible because we have a trained
team of dog wardens to make it work.
It’s proving hugely popular. Responsible dog owners welcome the new
service and residents see that their council is taking decisive action
on an unpleasant aspect of modern-day life that ministers clearly feel
is too hot to handle.
We would like to do more. Last week a Private Members Bill picked up on
a proposal we have been developing with the main animal welfare
agencies. This would give council dog wardens powers to microchip,
neuter, muzzle or confiscate any animal causing a serious nuisance.
As Conservatives we should be developing a new model for responsible
dog ownership. That should include the local enforcement powers
proposed in the current Bill as well as new controls on ownership.
Now that councils have taken on the job of dealing with strays they
need to sharpen up their dog control services. Let’s work out what we
want these teams to do and give them the backing to get on with the