Saturday September 23rd 2023
Blossom, an American XL Bully, trained by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.
This View has been written by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.
I generally try to avoid politics as a Dog Trainer, but in this case, sorry, not sorry. The decision made to ban the American XL Bully recently by the PM caused me a lot of disappointment, anger and frustration. To quote Karl Marx “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. Other world leaders have said similarly.
So, yes, this is now a farce.
Breed Specific Legislation was first introduced in 1991, banning breeds including the Pit Bull Terrier amongst others. The American XL Bully is due to join this list by the end of the year. Sir Keir Stammer has encouraged the PM to ‘get on with it and get it done’.
What does history tell us? It tells us the ban didn’t work. It tells us the problem, of dog bites and attacks in the UK, has worsened in the last four decades, since the original legislation was introduced. This has been a tragedy. Not just a tragedy in the failing of the law, but a tragedy that will hit home more to the victims and their families of dog attacks where they have been bitten, causing injury, maiming or even (rarely) death. The American XL Bully is now at the centre of it all, where it was the Pit Bull before.
Why are the government not looking to the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG) for the answers? APDAWG have been working hard on this for some time. I follow them and have not seen any outcomes advising a breed ban. Our UK Parliament already knows a breed ban is not the solution.
Banning this type of dog is a quick fix and it is only that. Yes, they are a large powerful breed capable of causing serious harm. However, there are many large powerful breeds of dogs and it will only be a matter of time before we see another breed or type emerging. Badly bred by irresponsible breeders ending up in the wrong homes with irresponsible owners.
No solution is perfect. There are many saying there is no point because irresponsible owners will only avert the law. This is true of any law, however, there are countries in the world that have the ultimate price for the crime of murder, the death penalty, yet those countries still have serious crime problems with murder. The truth is laws reduce crime but don’t eliminate. We do need to reduce the number of dog bites in the UK without question. According to the Scottish Community Safety Network there has been an 80% rise in dog bites and attacks in Scotland in the last 15 years.
To solve any problem, you have to solve the root cause of the problem. When I wrote the article for The Midlothian View back in April this year “Why the American XL Bully should NOT be the next banned breed” I was trying to get the solutions out there. It certainly gained a lot of media attention at the time and I ended up on LBC with Nick Ferrari and Radio 5 Live with Nicky Campbell to share my views.
My opinions may be unpopular but I strongly believe there are far better solutions by paying for a team of Dog Wardens to enforce better legislation. We can pay for this through licensing, so we should start here:
– licence breeders. Put measures in place to ensure dogs are bred for health and temperament. I would want all newborn puppies to be registered and their home visited by a Dog Warden. Register the DNA of every pup born Any aggression can then be traced back and stop breeding the lines with poor temperament. Ensue the breeders comply with processes that make sure pups only go to suitable and appropriate homes
– licence owners. Increasing the number of dog wardens means this again can be enforced. Many countries use the licensing to control who can own what type of dog. We only need to look to Spain who are leading the way on licensing controls which includes completing a training course, insurance and vaccinations amongst others
If we start there we will start to get to the root cause and we will start to solve the dog bite problem in the UK. APDAWG have also stated that Socio-Economic factors are part of the root cause, but that one really is for the politicians.
Nick specialises in Loose Leash Walking and Reactivity as well as everything you would expect from a Dog Trainer. You can find out more here: eskvalleydogtraining.co.uk