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Dog moves dismissed as 'tinkering'

The Government has been accused of failing to crack down on attacks by dangerous dogs, after it unveiled measures which critics said were "just tinkering around the edges" of the problem.

The measures include closing a loophole in the law so that dog owners will face prosecution if their pet attacks someone lawfully on their property.

Ministers also announced plans for compulsory microchipping of puppies by breeders before they are sold, a move proposed two years ago in an independent review to stop poor welfare "puppy farming" by unscrupulous breeders.

But animal welfare charities criticised the failure to bring in measures to prevent attacks, such as "dog control orders" which would force owners to keep dogs identified as potential problem animals on a lead or muzzled in public.

And news that the plans were subject to a further consultation was met with dismay by campaigners and the postal workers' union, who have been pushing for changes to the law for years.

Announcing the proposals, Environment Department (Defra) minister Jim Paice said: "We are known as a nation of animal lovers who take proper care of our pets. But there are a minority of irresponsible dog owners who don't. These people allow their dogs to menace or even attack innocent members of the public. This has to stop."

But Communication Workers Union general secretary Billy Hayes said: "We were hoping that all the fanfare around the dangerous dogs announcement this weekend would mean that positive action was on the way. Instead all we're getting is yet another consultation."

The Dogs Trust welcomed the extension of the laws to ensure prosecution of owners whose dogs attack people on private property, and said compulsory microchipping should be a central part of policies to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.

The charity also called for ways to deal with attacks before they occur, for example by issuing dog control notices to owners of dogs which are out of control or aggressive, ensuring they are muzzled or on a lead in public.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said the measures were a "wasted opportunity" for the Government to address irresponsible owners and welfare issues.

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