I’m a dog owner, and this story has really pissed me off! It appears that the UK government is considering law changes that will make dog ownership all but illegal for the poor!
The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been carrying out a consultation, ostensibly to see what legislative changes are required to improve control of dangerous dogs. A copy of the document has been leaked; and it seems that DEFRA are seriously considering the introduction of a “dog owner’s competency test”. As the paper spells out, establishing such a scheme would be very costly, and would be funded by charging a prohibitive fee for those taking the test and reintroducing dog licenses.
DEFRA haven’t responded to the reports, claiming they never comment on leaked documents. But it’s a fact that for some time now there’s been a concern about the ownership of pit bull terriers and other so-called “status dogs” amongst poor white males. This concern has been fuelled by a number of attacks, such as the case of John-Paul Massey, a four-year-old Liverpool boy, who died after being savaged by the family’s pit bull. There is a stereotype amongst the British tabloid press of young men roaming council estates with vicious pit bulls instead of knives and guns.
It is only a stereotype – there’s no real socio-economic link between poverty and dog attacks – but the tabloids have conjured up this image so often, there is now a very real belief among many people that the poor are using dogs as weapons. Now government spokesmen are talking in the same terms. And as a result of this “tail wagging the dog” mentality, some politicians are seriously thinking about banning the poor from owning dogs. Or at least introducing fees that will make dog ownership an expensive luxury.
Britain is well known to be a nation of dog lovers. Normally, the idea of pricing dog ownership out of the reach of the poor would be a ludicrous notion. But with a general election looming, and a hung parliament a real possibility, politicians of all parties are considering any idea that might win them a few votes. Remember when the Liberal Democrats used the spectre of racism to try and win votes in the east end of London? I’ll bet most of you never thought you’d see the day when liberals sided with the BNP, did you? So don’t dismiss the idea that desperate politicians will take pet corgis away from hard-up pensioners, in the name of clamping down on so-called “dangerous dogs”. We need to tell the politicians to keep their paws off our dogs! Or, never mind the pit bulls, we’ll bite the bastards ourselves!
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