UK Pitbulls: In 1990 in the UK, a child was mauled by a dog that authorities said was a Pitbull.
There was a public uproar and Parliament quickly and without a lot of research enacted the Dangerous Dog Act of 1991.
This law forbids 4 specific breeds, that seem to have been somewhat randomly selected, for inclusion.
The 4 banned breeds are:
• Pitbull terrier
• Dogo Argentino
• Fila Brasileiro
It didn’t matter to lawmakers that experts testified that no particular breed is more apt to attack. It didn’t matter that experts said it is all about how the dog is handled rather than about a breed.
It was as though the lawmakers couldn’t hear a word the experts were saying, and they passed this law that makes it illegal to own a Pitbull terrier or other named breed within the UK.
That’s bad enough, but it gets worse. Banned UK Pitbulls are not just purebred dogs. They are any dog that the authorities decide has “Pitbull like characteristics.” This is troublesome in part because it is so subjective.
When the law was first enacted, anyone who had a UK Pitbull or other banned dog had to register it. They were then subject to certain conditions, such as keeping the dog muzzled in public and purchasing insurance. The owners were then allowed to keep their dogs. Dogs that were not registered could be seized from the owner.
In the late 1990’s the enforcement of this law began to loosen, but only slightly. Today, it is still illegal to possess one of these dogs. If you are found with a banned dog the dog will be seized and kept in the custody of the authorities until there can be a trial.
If the owner can prove the dog is not a banned breed, the dog will be returned. If the dog is a banned breed, but the owner can prove it is not dangerous, the dog may still be returned, but with the same conditions listed above. The owner will also be subject to a fine and possible jail time for having a banned dog.
Should someone living in the UK even consider having a banned dog?
The short answer is no. Even though exceptions are made, the letter of the law bans them. If they ever choose to more strictly enforce the laws they could simply confiscate UK Pitbulls without the need for new laws.
While the law is grossly unfair and the result of ignorance and emotion, the possibility of having to turn over your pet to the authorities is such a horrible thought that owning one would not be worth it. Of course, if you already have a Pitbull in the UK you will need to do what it takes to prove the dog is not dangerous so that you can be granted an exception and be able to legally keep your pet.