8 September 2008
At the Green Party conference today, new Green Deputy Leader, Adrian Ramsay, joined the RSPCA and the London Metropolitan Police in calling for action to protect human safety and animal welfare from a trend towards irresponsible dog ownership.
At a fringe session at the party's conference in London, RSPCA Government Relations Manager, Claire Robinson, joined Met Police Sergeant Ian McParland to highlight a fifteen-fold increase in police calls about dog fighting in the past two years and the work the RSPCA is doing to reduce them.
The increase is linked with gang culture. Young people know that, while carrying knives and guns is an offence, having a tough-looking dog is not. As part of this culture, dogs are often pushed into impromptu fights in public places and are not properly looked after.
In some inner-city areas, so many of these ‘status dogs’ are now on the streets that parents are reluctant to let smaller children out to play.
Sergeant McParland, who is one of twenty Dog Legislation Officers in the capital, told the conference that the phenomenon was particularly prevalent in London and inner city areas such as Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
To deal with these problems, the panel stressed that the solutions had to be locally focused, with Safer Neighbourhood Teams, housing providers and social workers re-engaging with their communities.
The Met has joined with the RSPCA to set up a number of recent initiatives, including Community Animal Action Weeks in areas with high numbers of complaints, which provide advice and assistance to pet owners, including help with microchipping and neutering.
Adrian Ramsay, a Norwich Councillor and newly elected Deputy Leader of the Green Party, chaired the session. He said:
“This is a problem that is as much about anti-social behaviour and human welfare as it is about animal welfare.
“We need to ensure that all local authorities have animal welfare officers and that legislation is focused on irresponsible owners not types or breeds of dog.
"Green Councillors pledge to work with the RSPCA, local communities and the police to tackle the abuse of dogs and provide people with a safe and secure environment.”