Reproduced from the Kennel Club Press Release
On the 7th June 2001 representatives of The Kennel Club travelled to Brussels to attend a meeting with Michael Scannell – a Member of Mr David Byrne’s* Cabinet, who specialises in Animal Welfare Legislation, and Paul Remits – a European Commission legal advisor, to discuss the current ‘dangerous dog’ legislation being perpetrated in Germany and other areas of Europe.
The meeting lasted for over an hour and was considered constructive by all parties. Interestingly, Mr Scannell said “Whilst dog welfare issues are not always high on the political agenda, the German situation has made a significant impact and could easily be measured on the Richter scale”! Both Mr Scannell and Mr Remits confirmed that their colleagues had been inundated with protest correspondence predominantly from the UK, and their postbags continued to bulge! The Kennel Club were encouraged to learn that this is seen as a positive factor by all those connected with the European Parliament who have received letters and many now have large reference files. For all those who have already written: your time and postage was certainly not wasted as the matter is being taken very seriously as a result.
The Kennel Club reiterated its policy regarding so called dangerous and vicious dogs: ‘Punish the deed, not the breed’ – based on the circumstances of individual occurrences. Breed specific legislation is not the solution, as it is unacceptable to ban all dogs of a specific breed based on the actions of a single animal. This factor was taken on board by the Commissioner’s colleagues and fully appreciated.
* The primary European Commissioner, in charge of EU policy
Whilst Mr Scannell confirmed that ultimately the EU is unable to make legal proposals to the German Authorities, he assured the Kennel Club representatives that his office would continue to request the scientific evidence that proves that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is more likely to be ‘dangerous’ than any other breed. Indeed, the statistics provided by The Kennel Club clearly proved that in Germany you are far more likely to be bitten by a cross breed or mongrel, or by one of the native breeds, than by any of the breeds currently placed on Section One or Two of the German legislation. In light of this fact, all parties were agreed that there is no rationale for the German Government’s decisions.
The Commissioner’s colleagues were interested to learn that The Kennel Club had been approached by concerned ex-patriots residing in Germany, including Armed Forces Personnel, who had been experiencing difficulties in Germany, and from those with plans to relocate there, as a result of owning a dog that is either on Section One or Two of the current legislation. This may be a breach of their human rights in view of the requirement for freedom of movement between citizens of the EU Member States. With specific reference to this point, The Kennel Club would be very interested to hear from others who have been affected in this way.
It was clear from the meeting that UK dog lovers deserve congratulations for keeping the issue on the political agenda. Parliaments both here and abroad are aware of the situation and also aware of the strength of feeling. The EU will continue to ask the German Chancellor for the rationale behind the decision to outlaw breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Bull Terrier, when there is clear evidence that they cannot be held responsible for incidents in Germany.
Worryingly, it would appear that some German states are planning to add the German Shepherd Dog, Boxer, Great Dane and Rottweiler to Section One shortly. We must not become complacent. We must remain proactive to ensure that we do all we can to protect the dog’s standing in society.
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
Please consider writing to your MP, MEP, Mr Blair and the German Government and German Embassy (even if you have already done so), to keep this issue firmly in the public spotlight and on the political agenda. Writing again is important as the situation has changed since April 2001 when these laws came into force in Germany and not everyone will be fully aware of the changes.
Mention in your letters that Herr Schroeder, the German Chancellor, has failed to reply to Commissioner Byrne’s request to provide scientific evidence that proves conclusively that these breeds should be banned and encourage your Parliamentary representatives to request that Mr Schroeder does so without further delay. Also request that they consider the facts and evidence before supporting any anti-dog legislation which will distress thousands of family pets and their owners. Ask that they do not support any legislation which would endanger the life or freedom of the family pet dog and appeal to them to do all they can to aid the dogs currently suffering in Germany.