Liverpool Dog Cull Starts In Earnest
The controversial dog amnesty for Liverpool and surrounding areas started today, with local press reporting hundreds of dogs of being handed over to the authorities to be humanely put down. Whilst animal welfare groups are still calling for the amnesty to be stopped, the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police is preparing to address the public about the issue.
Below is a draught script for a podcast taken from the Merseyside Police website. In it, Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe discusses the importance of removing illegal and dangerous dogs from the streets of Merseyside, whilst ensuring those who own an illegal dog who no longer wish to have the responsibility of looking after it can hand it in without fear of prosecution.
In the meantime, the local press are reporting that dogs are being "seized", reflecting that either the publication in question is resorting to using inaccurate and sensationalist language, or that the forces are actively taking dogs away from people during the amnesty.
Transcript of Chief Constable Hogan-Howe's speech.
The issue of dangerous dog ownership is a national one. However in Merseyside, on the 1st January, the devastation that they can cause was
brought home to us with the tragic death of Ellie Lawrenson. Ellie was killed by a pit-bull type dog at her grandparents home.
As a force, Merseyside Police takes the issue of dangerous dogs very
seriously. Weíve been working with partners in the region to promote responsible dog ownership. Operation Dogsafe is our long-running initiative, which aims to educate the public about the legal responsibilities of dog ownership.
Through this, weíve also been tackling the anti-social use of dogs.
A 7-day hand-in for dogs banned by breed, is the next step in helping to
protect the public and enabling dog owners to stay within the law.
The hand-in aims to make the streets of Merseyside safer and is for owners of illegal dangerous dogs. It takes place between the 7th and the 13th February.
During this time, owners of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act can hand in their animals to us for humane destruction without fear of prosecution. Otherwise those found guilty of owning a banned dog by courts can face penalties of up to a £5000 fine and 6 months imprisonment.
There are four types of dog identified as bred specifically for fighting and
made illegal in this country by the legislation. The issue on Merseyside is with pit-bull terrier types, but the hand in is aimed at people with any of four breeds of illegal dangerous dogs.
Obviously this is an emotive issue and one that we do not take lightly. Since the death of Ellie Lawrenson owners of dogs have contacted ourselves and our partners concerned about their dog and unsure what to do. Some owners have abandoned their dogs, or handed them in voluntarily.
Our advice is that if you have an illegal dog and no-longer want the
responsibility of owning it, please donít abandon it, and also, please donít
take it to a police station. If you contact us on 0151 709 6010, we will make arrangements to collect your dog from you.
We, and our partners, the five local authorities, are determined to tackle this issue and we know the Hand In alone, isnít going to resolve the problems that exist.
Following the hand-in period, there will be a targeted enforcement campaign. We will seek out the owners of illegal dogs kept for fighting or to support other illegal activities. We will continue to investigate and seek prosecutions of those who are either unable or unwilling to keep their dogs under proper control.
We are asking the public to come forward with information about where illegal dogs are posing a threat to others, being bred for or used in dog fighting. We are also requesting a careful and considered review of the legislation, to make sure it is both workable and achieves our aims of preventing dog attacks causing serious injuries and deaths in the future.