Battersea statement on Pit Bull Francis

26 JULY 2016

Following the release of our new research providing a damning verdict on the Dangerous Dogs Act, we've released this statement on Pit Bull Terrier Francis.

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Francis was found straying in a London park by a member of the public and brought into Battersea’s London centre late on 18 July. He was examined by the Metropolitan Police Status Dogs Unit on 21 July and was deemed to be a Pit Bull type, one of the four breeds banned in the UK under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. Francis was not microchipped and his owner has not come forward to reclaim him.

Dogs like Francis, who is very friendly towards the Battersea staff caring for him, come through the charity’s gates every week. Battersea acts lawfully at all times and sadly, in line with the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the Home must now put Francis to sleep.

Under the Act it would be a criminal offence for Battersea to sell, exchange or give such a dog to any other organisation or individual and the dog would be seized by the Police, who could then prosecute the charity. Exempting such a dog from the Act is not an option for Battersea as the law doesn’t allow such a dog to be registered in a charity’s name.

Battersea had to put to sleep 91 dogs last year who were identified by the police as banned breeds. Until the law is changed, so that a dog is not judged by its breed but by what it has actually done, dogs like Francis and many more in the future, will have to be put to sleep.

Battersea published its report Dog Bites: What’s breed got to do with it? calling for Section One of the Dangerous Dogs Act to be repealed, precisely because of dogs like Francis. Our staff have to cope with such tragic cases every week of the year.

The Home has been greatly heartened by the public response to the issue of banned breeds and their immediate desire to help individual dogs such as Francis. We share your passion and concern and are now asking for your help.

Battersea cannot break the law but with your support we can try to change this one. 

Please contact your MP

We now ask that people contact their MP to ask them in turn to join Battersea in putting pressure on the Government to change such dog legislation, so that dogs like Francis are not condemned, simply for being a certain breed. 

In writing to their MP, Battersea suggests concerned members of the public use the following words:

For some 25 years, under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 it has been  a criminal offence to have possession or custody of four proscribed types of dog:-

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Fila Braziliero
  • Dogo Argentino

The intention behind this law was to protect public safety.  However, dog bites on people continue to rise despite this unfair and arbitrary ban.

A report published by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home on 25 July 2016 entitled “Dog bites: What’s breed got to do with it?” gives the opinions of expert behaviourists and consultants on the reasons why some dogs may be aggressive towards people. Of the 215 experts who responded, some 74% argued that breed was either not at all important or only slightly important, whilst an overwhelming 86% believed it was due to the way that the dog was brought up by its owner.

You can see the Report and its findings here: http://www.bdch.org.uk/files/Dog-bites-whats-breed-got-to-do-with-it.pdf

This new evidence casts significant doubt on the whole basis of Breed Specific Legislation.  This has been in force for 25 years and in that time it has not protected the public but has led to the needless destruction of thousands of dogs.  The time has come, a quarter of a century later, for Parliament to reconsider this legislation and repeal it with all due speed.

So I am asking you now as my MP to contact DEFRA calling for the repeal of Section 1 of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

We call on the Government to review the Dangerous Dogs Act

Our new research shows the failings of this breed specific legislation

Read our report