UK owners of "weapon dogs" face tough curbs

Tue Mar 9, 2010 1:33pm EST
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By Jim Drury

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - All owners of Britain's five million dogs face compulsory microchipping of their pets and the introduction of mandatory third party insurance under new proposals announced on Tuesday to combat the rise in attacks by dangerous dogs.

Existing laws may also be extended to cover private property, to protect postmen delivering mail.

The proposals were announced by Home Secretary Alan Johnson, himself a former postman, who hit out at owners of so-called weapon dogs.

"The vast majority of dog owners are responsible, but there is no doubt that some people breed and keep dogs for the sole purpose of intimidating others, in a sense using dogs as a weapon," he said.

"It is this sort of behavior that we will not tolerate; it is this sort of behavior that we are determined to stop."

Each week in Britain, more than 100 people are admitted to hospital after dog attacks.

Organized dog-fighting is also on the rise as is illegal ownership of dangerous dogs, particularly by gangs. The RSPCA charity recorded a 12-fold increase in organized dog fights between 2004 and 2008.

RSPCA spokesman Rob Harris welcomed the proposals, but said plans for an insurance scheme were inadequate.   Continued...

<p>Tia, a 4-year-old bull mastif sits in a kennel at the mayhew animal home in London March 9, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>