Britain is “a nation of dog lovers”. Yet 100,000 dogs are dumped or lost each year, at a cost of £57m to taxpayers and animal welfare charities. The number of dog bites reported at A&E departments has doubled in a decade to more than 6,000. In the past year, 3,000 postal workers were attacked by dogs, with 70 per cent of these incidents on public property.
At one extreme, eight children and six adults have been killed by dogs since 2005. At the other, we all bear witness to the daily health blight of mess that some owners allow their pets to leave on our streets. If for no other reason than to reunite some of the thousands of missing dogs with owners, like the former Spice Girl Emma Bunton, whose Labrador retriever disappeared this week, the Government is planning to introduce compulsory chipping (£20 to £30 at the vet’s).
It would seem hard to disagree with the eminently sensible David Bowles, the RSPCA’s head of public affairs, who endorsed the move, if not the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, who described the current situation as “ludicrous”. But no sooner was the plan announced than the dog lobby was shrieking “it won’t change anything”, as ever, not producing any ideas beyond maintaining the status quo.
Full disclosure: I am allergic to dogs and was attacked by one as a child. To be wary of dogs and their owners is not to hate them. But, it is never YOUR dog that fouls or attacks, is it? Well, that dog has to be somebody’s. The dog lobby (chipmenot.org and others) needs to stop pretending it is always somebody else’s problem and start taking some responsibility.