Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 13 August 2010

Should the United Kingdom reintroduce a new dog licence scheme? I hasten to add that this is not the latest idea from Westminster – as Parliament has risen and we are all at the seaside with our buckets and spades. No, it is a suggestion put to me (firmly and persistently) by a constituent who feels strongly that it would usher in significant benefits. I can see some merit in it and there is definitely a problem with irresponsible dog ownership. Or cats and dogs homes are full to bursting. The RSPCA put down over 550 abandoned but healthy dogs last year for whom they could not find new homes.
For most responsible dog owners who already care for their pets properly, I can however see that further cost and regulation would be about as popular as King Herod at a baby sitting convention. What do you think?
The main purpose would be to crack down on the number of unwanted dogs bought and then dumped by negligent owners. Alsatian puppies in eighth floor apartments, Rotweillers to welcome home the new baby, you know the kind of thing.
The argument goes that the requirement to obtain a dog licence and pay an appropriate fee would deter many casual puppy buyers and would result in far fewer dogs being abandoned. It gives the regulator a degree of control. It could be combined with a range of health measures (inoculations etc) that could improve the wellbeing of our four legged friends. The market would presumably shrink so fewer dogs would be bred by unscrupulous breeders.  It might also create a useful data base that would give greater control over the ownership of dangerous dogs.
On the downside, it is more bureaucracy of the kind that the coalition government is trying to get rid of, and would irresponsible people bother and would anybody enforce it? The police are struggling to cope already.
We used to have a scheme which I recall was honoured more in the breach than the observance, so it was scrapped in 1987. Interestingly, many other countries still have schemes – like Canada, Australia and most states in the USA, although my researches have not been able to discover how fully they are enforced. But the fact that these oft-admired countries still run such schemes suggests that there is some merit in it.
As I said, there is no proposal on the table, but I would welcome your views.

posted by Gary @ 13:41