Happy birthday to the Dangerous Dogs Act!

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By Katie King on

Country’s crappest legislation turns 25 today


Today marks the 25th birthday of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA), a much-hated piece of legislation that’s been marred by controversy throughout its life and is commonly thought of as the worst piece of legislation in modern history.

Law students might remember learning about the DDA as an example of what can happen when parliament doesn’t think about legislation properly.

Many believe the act was rushed through the law-making process in response to a number of high-profile dog attacks on children so, as a knee-jerk reaction, politicians decided to criminalise the ownership of dogs of particular illegal breeds, including pit bull terriers.

A quarter of a century on, and people are still not happy with the state of play.

Just this week, big name animal charity the RSPCA said adherence to the act causes the “needless” deaths of hundreds of dogs that fall into one of the banned breeds. A few weeks before that, the chief exec of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Claire Horton, argued:

[F]or a quarter of a century this legislation has condemned too many innocent dogs to be put to sleep whilst systematically failing to reduce dog attacks in our communities.

Despite these pleas, there are currently no plans to reform the act.

Looks like law students will be learning about this one for years to come.