This is about dog attacks on cats and the law – late 2013. It is written in plain English that is easy to understand so it is for kids as well as their parents.
It is against the law to let a dog become out of control and dangerous so that it attacks and kills a cat 2. When it happens, it is very hard to prove that the dog’s owner has done wrong. It should be a crime and the dog’s owner should be punished. The trouble is that the way the law is written it makes it hard to punish these people.
The most important law about animals in the United Kingdom is called the Animal Welfare Act 2006. You can add to that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 when it comes to out of control dogs.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, if the RSPCA or police are to catch a dog owner whose dog has killed a cat they have to prove to a judge that the cat’s suffering was not necessary, which is obvious and that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that what he was doing would end up causing the cat to be attacked and suffer. It is difficult to prove that.
Both the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 don’t really do the job of protecting cats from dog attacks.
There are probably more than two dog attacks on cats that end up killing a cat every week. As far as I know, not one of the owners of the dogs has been charged with a crime. Some of the attacks are deliberate when dog owners order their dogs to attack cats1. This is particularly horrible.
An example of a dog owner ordering or allowing his dog to attack a cat is when two very strong and aggressive dogs almost killed a Siamese type cat in Manchester this summer. The man saw his dogs attack the cat, Lexi, but did not stop them. The only reason why he finally did stop his dogs, by hitting them with a golf club, was when the cat’s owner heard the noise and came out of her house. Lexi was almost killed but a vet saved her life – just. In Manchester, during July 2013, three cats were killed by dogs when the dogs’ owners ordered the dog to attack or allowed it to happen.
Although there is not a complete list of dog attacks on cats in one place, Cats Protection, Britain’s main cat rescue charity, checked out lots of newspaper stories over months and figured out that there were at least two attacks every week. There may be many more. We don’t know. Not knowing exactly what is happening is also a problem.
There are lots of examples of dogs attacking and killing cats. In one case a cat owner was devastated when her old cat, which she had cared for all her life, was killed by a Lurcher and she saw the whole thing. This happened in June 2013. A Lurcher is a large dog that can used as a hunting dog.
Often when a dog attacks a cat the same dog attacks a person, usually a child.
Parliament, the place where laws are made in the UK, is discussing the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill. When law is not yet the law, but being discussed, it is called a “bill”.
The reason why there are these discussions is because there are too many dog attacks on people in the UK. Dogs can kill people, normally children, as well as cats. It seems that Cats Protection have also asked that the law is changed to protect cats as well as people.
Cats Protection told Parliament that they thought that changes should be made to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so that if a dog owner sets a dog on any other animal including cats, the dog owner will be doing something against the law, arrested, and punished. Also, even if a dog attacks an animal without the dog’s owner being involved, it is important that the owner can still be punished under the law. The idea is to make changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 by putting the changes in the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill and referring to the other act.
The basic idea is to make things far more clear so that the RSPCA, who make sure the animal laws are followed (enforced), can succeed in taking dog owners to court to be punished when their dog attacks and injures or kills animals that are described as “protected” under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
[Final note: Anyone can prosecute a person privately if that person has been involved in criminal behavior.]
- Cats Protection
- Original photo on Flickr
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