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Charity calls for change to law

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THE RSPCA HAVE released a new report which exposes the ineffectiveness, flaws and negative impact of the breed specific law. 

This week marks 25 years since the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991 which applies breed specific legislation – BSL- via Section One. The RSPCA is now calling for a UK Government inquiry into its effectiveness.

This week they have released a report ‘Breed Specific Legislation: A Dog’s Dinner’.

This shows the weaknesses in breed specific legislation as it has failed to meet its goals of improving public safety by reducing the number of dog bites and eliminating dogs that are prohibited. Indeed, more dog bites are reported now than ever before and the numbers of prohibited dogs continue to rise.

Many organisations agree that a breed specific approach is failing to protect public safety as dog bites continue to rise.

It also has a negative impact on dog welfare. Because of Section One of the DDA, the RSPCA in England and Wales has been forced to put to sleep 366 dogs over the past two years.

RSPCA dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: “The police, the RSPCA and other animal rescue organisations have to deal with the consequences of this flawed law by euthanising hundreds of dogs because legislation is forcing us to due to the way they look, despite being suitable for rehoming. Not only is this a huge ethical and welfare issue, it also places significant emotional strain on staff.

“It is the view of the RSPCA, and the public, that every animal’s life matters.

“We conclude that breed specific legislation has not achieved its objectives whilst causing unintended harms. A new approach is required.

“The RSPCA believes it is paramount for the Government to launch an inquiry into the effectiveness of BSL, assess other options to improve human safety and dog welfare, and ultimately repeal the breed specific part of the legislation.”

The report raises concerns that there is a lack of evidence to support BSL and that there are also issues around the evidence required to designate a dog as being of prohibited type. There are also concerns over the potential to mislead the public that non-prohibited dogs are always safe, and our primary concern is BSL’s impact on dog welfare and owner suffering.

Despite many countries using BSL, there is a lack of evidence to show that it reduces dog bites.

Several studies have shown that BSL has not reduced dog bites in countries abroad.

The number of hospital admissions due to dog bites rose from 4,110 (March 2005) to 7,227 (February 2015) and continue to rise.

BSL is now being reviewed worldwide and has been reversed by three European governments and many US administrations following studies. A 2010 Defra consultation in England revealed that 88% of respondents felt BSL was not effective in protecting the public, and 71% felt it should be repealed.

Television personality and dog behaviour expert Victoria Stilwell agrees with the RSPCA that BSL is ineffective, outdated and flawed, saying: “BSL tears apart families while punishing innocent dogs and their guardians solely because of a dog’s appearance. Any dog can bite under the right circumstances, so legislation should focus on protecting the public through responsible pet guardianship rather than targeting a particular breed.”

The Dog’s Dinner report shows a number of cases from other countries, including Canada, where a reduction in dog bites has been achieved, not by BSL, but by focusing on improving responsible dog ownership. There are already mechanisms in the legislation to improve human safety.

These should be prioritised as well as a focused education campaign, particularly aimed at children.

As well as being ineffective at protecting public safety, BSL raises serious dog welfare concerns and causes trauma to owners who are affected.

“The process of seizing a dog suspected of being prohibited and the stress associated with a kennel environment can compromise the dog’s welfare,” Dr Gaines added.

“The impact on dog welfare and owner well-being has been very much hidden but it is clear that BSL comes at a significant cost to many who would not ordinarily come into contact with the police or courts.

“Until such time that BSL is repealed, there needs to be urgent action to protect the welfare of dogs affected by this law. In the absence of any evidence to show that BSL is effective in safeguarding public safety, it is the very least that we can do for man’s best friend.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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