11:26am Thursday 26th April 2012
Middle-class pet owners will be hit by the Government's crackdown on dangerous dogs, North Wiiltshire MP James Gray said today.
Conservative Mr Gray claimed plans to microchip all puppies will fail to deter yobs from using dogs as weapons but will place additional burdens on respectable dog lovers.
Earlier this week ministers published proposals they hope will help prevent fatal dog attacks after several high-profile tragedies in which children were mauled to death.
Speaking at environment questions in the Commons, Mr Gray said: "There is a risk that not one single criminal thug who breeds illegal dogs at the moment will go tripping into the vet's to have their puppies microchipped.
"What will result from this proposal is a wonderful database of perfectly legal and decent, middle-class, ordinary dog owners on the database and it will not have any affect whatsoever on illegal dogs and their owners."
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman admitted: "Obviously we can't legislate against every thug," but added: "It's the suffering of victims that we are trying to address in this package."
Mrs Spelman said the database would be run by Whitehall and believed the plans would help cut the £3 million annual NHS bill for treating dog bite victims.
But Labour's Luciana Berger, who has campaigned to reform the 21-year-old Dangerous Dogs Act after four-year-old John-Paul Massey was killed by an illegal pit bull terrier in her in her Liverpool Wavertree constituency, criticised the plans for not going far enough.
She said: "It has taken the Government two years to bring forward any measures to tackle dangerous dogs.
"The consultation concluded in June 2010, yet nothing announced on Monday will actually stop dog attacks from happening in the first place."
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