A pet owner accused the government of “dog racism” because of a law that can see animals placed in kennels or even euthanized based on their unsafe appearance.
In 2019, Anita Medhi had her pet, Lola – an 18 month old American Bulldog / Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross – seized by police without warning at her home in Middlesbrough.
Indeed, he looked like one of the four types of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 – Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Fila Brasileiros, or Dogo Argentinos.
Anita Medhi (pictured with her dog Lola) accused the government of “dog racism” over a law that can see animals placed in kennels or even euthanized depending on how dangerous they are
A court ruled that Lola posed no threat to the public and could therefore be placed on an exemption index and returned to her owner.
However, the fact that the dog shares some of the same characteristics as a Pit Bull Terrier means that she must always wear a leash and muzzle outside.
After Lola returned home, she developed an infection that caused the dog to urinate around the house, which was attributed to the stress of her ordeal.
Ms Medhi told the PA News Agency that the seizure and subsequent hearing also negatively impacted her own mental health, causing her “post-traumatic stress”.
In 2019, Lola – an 18 month old American Bulldog / Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreed – was seized without warning by police at her Middlesbrough home because she looked like one of four types of dogs banned under the 1991 law. on dangerous dogs.
It could have been even worse for Lola, however – many dogs have to wait months or even years in kennels while waiting for exemptions.
Additionally, all stray dogs “typed” in the same way due to legislation must be killed by vets, as charities are not legally allowed to rehouse them.
Activists like Ms Medhi are now calling for reform of the dangerous dog law, with her recent petition now signed by 50,000 urging ministers to change the law.
“This is dog racism, how can you tell if a dog is dangerous by its appearance?” ” she asked.
“A dog should be judged on his behavior and nothing else, if a dog is well balanced, properly raised, there should be no problem.
“Lola has proven to be a well-rounded, lovable dog who poses no risk to the public, there is no reason to have restrictions on her.”
“I can’t tell you how important it is to get rid of this act, I didn’t know there was a Dangerous Dog Act, it’s been a pain in my life since Lola was arrested.”
She added: “The longer this law exists, the more dogs will be at risk – the government is not listening to change and now is the time to listen.”
A court ruled that Lola posed no threat to the public and could therefore be placed on an exemption index and returned to her owner. However, the fact that the dog shares some of the same characteristics as a Pit Bull Terrier means that she should always wear a leash and muzzle at all times outdoors.
The national pet charity Blue Cross has called on the government to repeal the relevant section of the law immediately, before the 30th anniversary of the Dangerous Dogs Act on August 12.
Becky Thwaites, the organization’s public affairs official, said the law was “ineffective” and had made no difference to the number of dog attacks over the past 30 years.
“We still see a number of dog attacks every year, it means healthy pets are asleep because of their appearance,” she said.
“This is a law that does not protect the public and has a negative impact on the welfare of dogs.
“It is time for the government to revise the legislation and come up with something that works and is based on an unreleased act.”
The Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences, which is why it is a criminal offense to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control.
“Any dog has the potential to be dangerously out of control and it is therefore important that the police and the courts are able to employ a range of measures to limit risks to public safety.
“We will officially respond to this petition in due course.”
What is the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991?
On August 12, 1991, the Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect, banning four types of dogs.
Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) prohibits four types of dogs; the pitbull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the dogo Argentino and the fila Brasilerio.
It is against the law to own, sell, breed, donate or abandon any of these types of dogs.
Police do not need court permission to seize a suspected illegal dog if it is in a public place or if it is in a private place and officers have a warrant for something else .
Officers can also seize a dog in a private location if they have been given a warrant to do so.
Once a dog has been seized and is awaiting a court ruling as to whether the animal is a danger to the public, the dog owner is not allowed to visit it.
Sources: gov.co.uk and bluecross.org.uk