Owner accuses government of ‘dog racism’ after innocent pet is seized and muzzled
A pet owner accused the government of “dog racism” because of a law that can see animals placed in kennels or even euthanized based on their unsafe appearance.
In 2019, Anita Medhi had her pet, Lola – an 18-month-old American Bulldog / Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreed, seized by police at her home in Middlesbrough without warning.
This was because he looked like one of the four types of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991: Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Fila Brasileiros, or Dogo Argentinos.
A court ruled that Lola posed no threat to the public and could therefore be placed on an exemption index and returned to her owner.
However, the fact that the dog shares some of the same characteristics as a Pit Bull Terrier means that she must always wear a leash and muzzle outside.
After Lola returned home, she developed an infection that caused the dog to urinate around the house, which was attributed to the stress of her ordeal.
Ms Medhi told the PA News Agency that the seizure and subsequent hearing also negatively impacted her own mental health, causing her “post-traumatic stress”.
It could have been even worse for Lola, however – many dogs have to wait months or even years in kennels while waiting for exemptions.
Additionally, any stray dog ”typed” in the same way due to legislation should be killed by vets as charities are not legally allowed to rehouse them.
Activists like Ms Medhi are now calling for reform of the dangerous dog law, with her recent petition now signed by 50,000 urging ministers to change the law.
“This is dog racism, how can you tell if a dog is dangerous by its appearance?” ” she asked.
“A dog should be judged on his behavior and nothing else, if a dog is well balanced, raised properly, there should be no problem.
“Lola has proven to be a well-rounded and lovable dog in court who poses no risk to the public, there is no reason to have restrictions on her.”
“I can’t tell you how important it is to get rid of this act, I didn’t know there was a Dangerous Dog Act, it’s been a pain in my life since Lola was arrested.”
She added: “The longer this law exists, the more endangered dogs will be – the government is not listening to change and now is the time to listen.”
The national pet charity Blue Cross has called on the government to repeal the relevant section of the law immediately, before the 30th anniversary of the Dangerous Dogs Act on August 12.
Becky Thwaites, the organization’s public affairs official, said the law was “ineffective” and had made no difference to the number of dog attacks over the past 30 years.
“We still see a number of dog attacks every year, it means healthy pets are asleep because of their appearance,” she said.
“This is a law which does not protect the public and which has a negative impact on the welfare of dogs.
“It is time for the government to revise the law and introduce something that works and is based on deed, not race. “
The Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences, which is why it is a criminal offense to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control.
“Any dog has the potential to be dangerously out of control and it is therefore important that the police and the courts are able to employ a range of measures to limit risks to public safety.
“We will officially respond to this petition in due course. “