Dog Behaviour and Welfare

Seized dog welfare

It is known that dogs require the right environment to be happy and healthy. Dogs in kennel  have the ability to suffer stress which compromises physical and mental health.

Dogs suspected of being prohibited 'types' are typically seized and moved to a secret police appointed kennels. The length of stay is variable, however there are many cases where they develop health concerns (mental or physical) which is unintentionally a consequence of the enforcement of BSL.

Many of the dogs are family pets which have not actually caused an injury or even fear of injury to a person. There is a 'stay at home' policy also known as the Interim scheme, however this is rarely used by some police forces.

Studies have shown that certain aspects of the kennel environment can make it difficult for dogs to cope in the kennel environment, such as high noise levels, lack of stimulation and enrichment, lack of space, limited exercise and interaction with humans and other dogs. For a social animal this can impact negatively on their well-being.

If you are concerned over a dogs welfare or physical health within a kennel environment or on the return of a or your own seized dog feel free to contact us and or the RSPCA. 

The actual seizure of dogs can be extremely stressful for them and their owners often watching in panic and disbelief. at the time of seizure. Dogs are often scared and owners can become very agitated in the heat of the moment, causing the dog even more anxiety, leading to an increased risk of aggression towards the officers (strangers to the dog). This can then result in forceful handling and removal of  a very scared dog. This can influence those who later assess the dog's behaviour towards people.

Exempted Dog Welfare

Dogs registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs (IOED) have to abide by certain criteria including:

  • Muzzled and on a lead in a public place at all times (including the car)
  • Third party liability insurance for life 
  • Be neutered and microchipped
  • The registered owner can not sell, give away, abandon or allow the dog to stray to anyone. If terminally ill or have died the change in keeper details can be requested via legal application

Dogs kept under these conditions are then very limited as they are restricted  in their ability to socialise properly with other dogs, play with toys and remove themselves from a threat as they would do off the lead when out on a walk. 

Facial expressions are also limited which can be detrimental as a key factor of dog behaviour and communication.

Muzzle training or advise is often NOT given to the newly exempted dog or owner, this can create frustration and problems with the acceptance of a muzzle. Dogs have been known to develop skin damage from wearing muzzle incorrectly fitted or that cause irritation and create a negative association with the muzzle and even walks. Without the right force-free and positive reward based training muzzle training can cause fear and anxiety for the dog and impact on their ability to then be taken outside for exercise due to the life threatening restrictions. Click here  for positive muzzle training by Chirag Patel.

Tackling Dog Fighting

There is a current assumption and supposed link between "Pit Bull type" dogs and those involved in dog fighting, however this is frequently unfounded. 

Mark Randall worked for Sussex Police as a Law Enforcement Manager specialising in intelligence and covert operations, was head of operations for the League Against Cruel Sports and now is heavily involved in investigating illegal dog fighting. He states: ‘The structure of fighting is immensely difficult to define. Academically there are 3 or 4 levels, although in reality these are affected by cultural and geographic variances in the UK and Europe, producing many more than 3 or 4 'levels'. 

Each one though is intrinsically linked to Breed Specific Legislation which, in my opinion, actually feeds the activity rather than prevents it. BSL adds unhelpful status to certain types of dog, fueling the street level fighting scene.

Hobbyist fighters use the rigidity of the Dangerous Dogs Act to try to create dogs that will fight but not be classified as dangerous. This creates an underground puppy breeding network that produces large muscly crossbreeds common in the UK inner city areas, also presumably producing dogs that need to be disposed of as waste product.  The professional fighter still uses dogs more in common with the original definition of a pit bull. However, very few of these show any levels of violence towards humans for they would not be able to fulfill their task as fighting dogs if they did. Therefore any typing of fighting dogs does not reduce chance of human injury, rather further victimises a dog that is already a victim.

To a dog fighter, the animal is a commodity and any seizure is treated the same way as large shops see shoplifting, as collateral damage. It is akin to killing a victim as a crime prevention technique. As a former officer, I am aware that the usual role of the police is to collect facts and then present the evidence in an objective manner. '

Typing' under BSL radically changes that role in that a DLO seeks to gather subjective evidence to support a hypothesis. A DLO doesn't seek to identify what breed a dog is, but how many characteristics a certain dog has that makes it that banned breed.’  

Puppy Farming Links To BSL

We have been featured in The Huffington Post (Link here) regarding the 'Missing link' between puppy farming and BSL.