There’s a new edition to the McCarthy household. Meet Jasper our pampered pooch. Jasper’s an apricot and white cavapoo, a cross between a cavalier spaniel and a poodle. He’s not keen on Cava but boy does he like to poo.
His full name is Jasper George McCarthy. Is it unusual to give a dog a middle name? I think so, but my wife insisted. He’s named after Prince George, the royal baby. That’s because *woman talking to baby voice* – ” You’re our little prince aren’t you Jasper, yes you are”.
I thought the middle name was a stupid idea but then realised it was entirely appropriate as he’ll be spoilt rotten, will never have to get a job and will be sponging off others for the whole of his life.
We all adore Jasper but then I’ve always been a bit of a dog lover. Dogs are great. They don’t say anything, they give unconditional love and just before they turn eighteen, and you have to fund them through university, they die. Bonus.
I appreciate that a lot of people hate dogs. I think that’s because, like disc jockeys and priests, they’re only ever in the public eye for bad things they’ve done. Stuff like biting young children and dry humping the legs of old aged pensioners. This creates a problem because bad publicity causes governments to act hastily and hasty governments make bad laws.
I think it’s fair to say that the dog related laws introduced in my lifetime are the legislative equivalent of one of Jasper’s steaming late night turds.
The main laws governing civil liabilty and dog ownership can be found in The Animals Act 1971. It is undoubtedly one of the worst drafted statutes ever; that’s some achievement given the competition. As low points of the 1970s go it’s down there with power cuts, Uriah Heep and beating confessions out of Irishmen. Basically, if you pretend your rottweiler’s an angel and has never so much as frowned at another creature in its life, you won’t be liable under the Act even if it mutilates a toddler.
Then along came the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. A pre-election, headline grabbing set of laws that didn’t do anything of any use except introduce us to the Fila Brasileiro, the Brazilian Mastiff. Imagine a Great Dane with a serious chip on its shoulder. A Scooby Don’t.
The Fila Brasileiro was banned from the UK by the Act, along with three other breeds, despite the fact that nobody actually knew anyone who owned one. The breed are superb hunters and absolutely fearless and were employed in their homeland to chase down and recover slaves who had escaped. This was back in those halycon days when slavery was legal in Brazil. The Fila Brasileiro’s qualities have not been lost on Nigel Farage and UKIP who plan to repeal the Act and re- introduce the breed, employing them to hunt down Romanian pickpockets and failed asylum seekers.
The latest botched attempt at dogbite law came into force on 20th October as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
The legislation will allow the police and council officials to issue community protection notices, or “Dogbos”, to force owners of nuisance animals to take appropriate steps to control their behaviour.
Owners of unruly canines face fines of up to £2500 and could have their dogs taken away from them or even , gulp, put down.
Nuisance behaviour includes snarling at strangers, threatening postal workers, damaging a neighbour’s property and chasing cats. No, that’s not a typo, DOGS WON’T BE ALLOWED TO CHASE CATS.
Isn’t that what dogs do? Isn’t it part of their instinctive genetic make up? It’s like spiders weaving webs or teenage boys owning lad’s magazines with some of the pages stuck together. How can you legislate against nature?
The latest dog laws are doomed to fail, partly because they are rubbish but also because they rely on enforcement to be effective. Enforcement means more dog wardens and that means more money. It’s money that both central and local government haven’t got. I’m afraid a pledge of putting more dog wardens on the street is not likely to feature in any of next year’s party election broadcasts.
Jasper’s not bothered by all of this mind you. He’s next to me as I type, having sex with a cushion, totally oblivious to another well meaning but useless piece of dog legislation.