Dog licences could be reintroduced for owners after death of 10-year-old boy

Jack Lis was mauled to death by an American Bully or XL Bully dog called Beast

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The Government should reintroduce dog licences to prevent owners from keeping dangerous pets, ministers have heard.

Labour MP for Caerphilly Wayne David told the Commons that people who wanted to keep dogs should also face “effective assessment”.

His calls to rethink the law on dangerous dogs comes after his 10-year-old constituent Jack Lis was mauled to death by an American Bully or XL Bully dog called Beast while playing at a friend’s house in Pentwyn, Penyrheol, Caerphilly, South Wales, on November 8 last year.

Amy Salter, 29, and Brandon Hayden, 19, were last month jailed following the youngster’s death.

While Mr David said their sentences had been “far too lenient”, he called on the Government to fundamentally rethink the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

A bully dog named Beast was destroyed after it mauled Jack Lis to death
A bully dog named Beast was destroyed after it mauled Jack Lis to death

Mr David said: “Incredible though it may seem to many, the dog which attacked Jack Lis, an American XL Bully, is not listed as a dangerous dog.

“But I am not calling for this particular breed of dog simply to be added to the list, there are many types of dogs including crossbreeds which you could argue ought to be on the list, but there are two fundamental problems with this approach.

“One is that because there is more and more crossbreeding, it is virtually impossible to maintain any kind of legislation which contains an up-to-date list.

“Secondly, proscribing certain breeds of dogs gives the erroneous impression that only listed dogs are dangerous and does not take into account how a dog is kept and trained.”

He added: “Rather than relying on breed-specific legislation which is clearly inappropriate, the Government ought to bring forward legislation which is based on a totally different approach to this issue.”

Mr David went on: “A number of years ago, there were dog licences. The Government really ought to examine the possibility of reintroducing dog licences, but this time we shouldn’t simply see them as an easy way of Government having an additional source of revenue.

“The money received should be used for a whole range of initiatives including tackling the behavioural problems of certain kinds of dogs which leads to dog bite incidents.”

Undated family handout file photo issued by South Wales Police of Jack Lis
Undated family handout file photo issued by South Wales Police of Jack Lis

He suggested that licensing could be an “extension” of the requirement to microchip dogs.

Mr David added: “I also believe that there needs to be an effective assessment made of potential and actual owners of dogs.

“At the moment, anyone quite literally in any circumstances can purchase virtually any kind of dog. Local authorities I believe should have a key role to play here.”

Concluding, Mr David paid tribute to Jack Lis’ mother Emma, telling the Commons: “She has been enormously brave during this whole difficult time.

“Nothing can bring back Jack but all of us need to do our utmost to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

Cabinet Office minister Heather Wheeler told MPs the Government is “determined to crack down on irresponsible dog ownership and promote safe interactions with dogs”.

Ms Wheeler mentioned the report from Middlesex University on responsible dog ownership, which recommended the introduction of new legal requirements, including checks on previous history and demonstration of a minimum standard of dog knowledge.

The report was commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Ms Wheeler said: “We will be considering this recommendation and any relevant evidence in more detail, including the merits of dog licencing, which I hope the honourable gentleman will be pleased about.

“The responsible dog ownership steering group will also be looking at the possibility of strengthening enforcement, improving the quality and accessibility of dog training and awareness courses and developing and supporting education initiatives.”