Simple licensing laws in the UK would cut the numbers of homeless and abandoned dogs - so why is this not happening? With dog shelters and a number of animal welfare groups in crisis, we urgently need strict legislation and regulation that removes the issues of the dog licensing system that was scrapped in 1987.
RSPCA vet James Yates believes all dog owners should be forced to obtain licenses. He says that registration would enable traceability and accountability and reminds us that pet ownership is a responsibility as much as a privilege.
A report by The Independent found that an annual fee of just £21.50 per dog owner would raise in the region of £107.4 million, which could be used to fund animal welfare.
A look at the failings of the pre-1987 system shows that less than 50% of people complied with the law and registered their dogs. The revenue brought in by dog licensing was simply not enough to match the man hours of following up complaints of non-compliance and unregistered dogs. As a result, the scheme was replaced by the Dangerous Dogs Act, which came in to effect in 1989.
It’s a shame that the Kennel Club - an establishment that has come under a great deal of criticism in recent years, most notably during this year’s Crufts - continues to oppose any mandatory registration of dogs, reasserting their stance that the move would penalise responsible dog owners. Offering support to the compulsory registration of dogs would go some way in rousing support for putting the welfare of dogs first.
Amongst those most likely to object to the registration are scrupulous breeders who sell litters on websites such as Preloved, Pets4Homes and Gumtree. As it stands, anyone can produce litters and sell them without restriction, with most dogs in shelters being the result of this kind of irresponsible ownership.
So perhaps it’s about time we took a firmer stance and put the needs of our pets before any hollow objections to the contrary. Whilst we cannot rule out the neglect of dogs, we can certainly reduce its frequency, while freeing up funds to help those who have fallen on hard times take care of their beloved animals, as well as crack down on animal cruelty.