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Welsh Government calls talks on how councils can tackle dangerous dogs

a puppy
An American XL bully puppy (Photo: Envato Elements) licence

TALKS on how councils in Wales can tackle dangerous dogs are to be held today (Wednesday, October 18).

A summit has been called by the Welsh Government which doesn’t have the power to make laws to protect the public from dangerous dogs, such as American XL bullies, which can only be legislated on by the UK Parliament in Westminster.

But Wales’ rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths is bringing councils, the police, charities and campaigners together to discuss how rules and regulations that are, and can be, agreed in Wales can be used to address the issue.

Last month prime minister Rishi Sunak promised to ban American XL bully dogs by the end of the year following a series of attacks across the UK. He made the promise after it emerged a man has died after being attacked by two dogs – suspected to be bully XLs – in Staffordshire and following a video of another incident when an 11-year-old girl suffered serious injuries in Birmingham.

Calls for a ban on the dogs have been growing since the death in November 2021 of 10-year-old Jack Lis, from Caerphilly, who was mauled by an XL bully. Just over a year later, in December 2022 83-year-old Shirley Patrick was attacked by a dog at her house in Heol Fawr – just half a mile from Jack’s home. She died 17 days later.

Today’s meeting will discuss how powers related to issues such as breeding and pet sales, and the role of council officials such as trading standards officers, which do rest in Wales can be used to better control dogs and ownership as well as how responsible dog ownership can be better promoted.

Labour Senedd Member Ms Griffiths said: “We have seen far too many dog attacks over the past few years and, while changes to the law on dangerous dogs is a matter for the UK Government, there are things we can address in Wales, such as improving enforcement of current legislation, education and raising awareness.

“The summit brings together all the key players so we can see what works now, where there are gaps and where we can take more action.

“Any dog, whatever their breed or size, has the potential to cause harm and show aggression, and so responsible dog ownership is vital for all breeds.”

The Welsh Government has also said over the past three years it has supported a dog breeding enforcement project that has provided training and guidance to local authority inspectors that has improved their ability to investigate and stop illegal breeding. This has included additional inspections at dog breeding premises and gathering of intelligence on unlicensed dog breeders, which is says has lead to prosecutions.

Gareth Walters, trading standards and animal health manager for Monmouthshire County Council, who will be taking part in the summit said the project has seen nine new animal licensing officers appointed.

He said: “They offer crucial support required by local authority public protection services by providing a shared resource across Wales as a recognised point of expertise. The officers enable existing animal health officers to focus on wider animal health and welfare work.”

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Welsh Government calls talks on how councils can tackle dangerous dogs