The Dog Ownership Suitability Test

 This something I discovered on the UK parliment (goverment) site….It looks like something we should consider in the US before we are allowed to own nothing but Teacup Poodles and mini breeds (which are far more vicious than the currently banned breeds!! They are just to small to cause the same degree of damage)

Dog Ownership Suitability Test

Better for dogs – Better for people

The Proposal

This is the 2nd draft of the Dog Owner Suitability Test proposal.

Shortly, via the Pet Owner’s Parliament, we will begin a consultation process designed to refine and improve this proposal further.

The key features of this proposal have been arrived at over the course of more than two years of planning and research into the strengths and weaknesses of existing canine legislation, reviews of specific environmental and public safety cases involving dogs and general consultation with a wide variety of individuals and organisations involved with domestic dog issues.

Please note: This proposal can be commented on here but at this time this is NOT the public consultation stage. Official consultation on the proposal will take part in April and will run for 12 weeks. If you would like to comment on the proposal, offer feedback, support or opposition please feel free to do so here. If you would also like to consult on the draft officially, this will be available to members of Pet Owner’s Parliament which will be open for business and (free) membership to all British citizens above the age of 16 from April 1st 2008. Thank you.

The Dog Owner Suitability Test, hereto referred to as D.O.T is a proposal designed to achieve the following objectives: 

  • To place a far greater emphasis on the prevention of dog attacks, dog neglect and environmental nuisance
  • To improve the general level of canine awareness amongst all UK dog owners
  • To bring about radical change in the standards of those involved in the supply of dogs to the public
  • To ensure greater comprehension amongst all UK dog owners of the various laws affecting domestic dogs
  • To provide a workable alternative to the failed aspects of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act
  • To place full legal accountability upon dog owners for the actions and welfare of their dogs
  • To repeal breed specific legislation which has failed to save human lives and is practically impossible to implement fairly

10 Point Plan for Achieving Stated Goals:

1) Lobby government to create and fund an executive agency of DEFRA which would deal with administrating the dog owner suitability test. For the purposes of this proposal we shall give this agency the working title of ‘Dog Owner Licencing Agency’. The responsibility of this agency would be as follows:

  • Dog and owner licensing database.
  • Issuing certification and processing applications to the Dog Ownership Suitability Test which would be run and administered in a style similar to the driving licence theory exam of the British Citizenship Test
  • Provide access to the central dog and owner licensing database to enable those involved in the supply of or control of dogs to verify if an individual has a valid dog ownership licence
  • Set the national fee for sitting the D.O.T

2) Develop a Canine Ownership Code. A curriculum similar to the highway code which will be the foundation of the D.O.T. The Canine Ownership Code will consist of questions based entirely on non subjective issues. Matters of fact will be tested which would include:

  • Questions relating to dog laws
  • Questions relating to canine health care issues as approved by British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons most up to date guidance (to be regularly reviewed and updated)
  • Questions relating to canine behaviour. Questions must be a matter of broadly acknowledged fact and would not be subjective in nature.

Example of an acceptable canine behaviour question.

“A dog displaying an arched back, licking lips with a tail tucked between the legs is most likely to be: A) Showing signs of fear or nervousness. B) Showing signs of playful confidence. C) Showing signs of territorial aggression”

Example of an unacceptable canine behaviour question.

“What would be the correct way to train a dog who is fearful or nervous of people?”

  • Questions relating to particular dog breeds, their origins and lifestyle requirements
  • Questions relating to responsible management of dogs in relation to society and the environment
  • Questions relating to options and resources available to owners who may encounter problems with their dog at some point in the future such as: What to do if a dog becomes ill or injured. What to do if a dog has started to show signs of aggression (in terms of contacting professional advisors, not generic behaviour advice). What to do if a dog goes missing. What to do if lifestyle circumstances change significantly.

3) Introduce a Supplier Level Dog Ownership Licence which would be required for any person, group or organisation if they intend to transfer ownership of a dog in exchange for money. The Supplier Level Dog Ownership Licence would be subject to an ‘advanced’ version of the D.O.T and would include questions relating to the responsible supply of dogs to the public. It would be a legal requirement that no dog be sold, given away or transfered by any one person, business or group to any person who is not able to prove they have passed the D.O.T and holds a valid dog ownership licence. The punishment for a person, group or organisation found guilty of supplying a dog to a person who does not have a valid ownership licence will be an instant revocation of their Supplier Level Dog Ownership Licence plus a significant fine and a ban from being permitted to sell or transfer ownership of any dog under penalty of a further fine. Repeated offences of selling or transfering dogs from a person not in possession of a valid Supplier Level Dog Ownership Licence would entitle a court to hand down a custodial term to the offender. This part of the proposal is absolutely crucial in forcing up standards for the responsible supply of dogs.

4) To repeal the breed specific legislation section of the dangerous dogs act and replace them with meaures as proposed by the National Dog Warden’s Association, a group who were not consulted or involved in the drafting of the current dangerous dogs act despite the fact they are the organisation who have the most practical experience dealing with dog control and who are most acutely aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the dangerous dogs laws and other legislation affecting dogs impact on the environment.

5) Unless it is absolutely neccessary in a case of an immediate threat to public safety, dogs that have been involved in a suspected attack should not be destroyed until they have been independently assessed by a competent dog behaviour expert. It is not possible to learn or establish the cause, motive or stimulus for a dog attack if the animal is summarily destroyed before an assessment is carried out. This does not mean the animal should not be destroyed at a later date but all serious dog attacks where a dog is to be euthanised should be accompanied by a behaviour report and case account which is made publicly available in order to assist the public with learning about the circumstances that can lead up to a dog attack.

6) All dogs to be covered by compulsory 3rd party insurance.

7) To increase maximum prison sentence and limits of fines available to hand down in cases of serious animal abuse or neglect.

8 ) To require all dog owners to sign and agree to a Responsible Dog Ownership Charter upon passing the D.O.T. The charter will be an agreement from the dog owner that they will provide the minimum level of care for their dog as detailed by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and that they will endeavor to care for any dog(s) in their ownership for the lifetime of the dog. In the event that a dog may need to be re-homed, euthanised or treated for accident or illness the charter would require the dog owner to minimum level of appropriate action under their duty of care to the dog.

9) To make it an offence for a person who has been convicted of selling or transferring a dog to a person, group or organisation not in possession of a valid ownership licence to advertise for sale or transfer any dog in the UK.

10) To make it an offence for any UK based publication, website or business to knowingly accept advertising – paid or otherwise – from a person not in possession of a valid Supplier Level Dog Ownership Licence. It will be possible to check on the validity of a person’s Supplier Level Dog Ownership Licence via the Dog Owner Licencing Agency.

How will the test be implemented?Have your say, ask your questions about the Dog Owner Suitability Test here  

Useful Resources

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