Campaigners call for tougher controls on dog ownership 'As easy as buying crisps'

ANIMAL rights campaigner Chris Packham has called for tougher controls on dog ownership - claiming that acquiring a new pet has become as easy as 'buying a packet of crisps in the garage'.

Campaigners are calling for tougher controls as lockdown pets are abandoned

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Comparing bad dog owners to bad parents, RSPCA vicepresident Chris said dogs should be kept on leads following a spate of horror attacks, including one outside his partner's home. His comments follow warnings from the RSPCA that there has been a rise in abandoned pets since the pandemic.

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In March, 17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch died after an attack in her home in St Helens, Merseyside.The family had bought the dog a week earlier.Conservationist Chris, who returns toTV screens tomorrow to host BBCTwo's Springwatch, said: "During lockdown we had an explosion of people who wouldn't normally have thought about keeping domestic animals, cats and dogs and pets because they didn't have the time - and they found themselves with the time.

"They reacted to it because we enjoy our lives with our companion animals and they add an enormous amount to our lives and our families too.

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"But then, of course, the reality of post-lockdown meant there were other welfare issues and now there is a surfeit of kittens and puppies without homes, not getting the welfare that they need to be happy and healthy.

"They [dogs] should be more difficult to acquire.

"If it's easy and people are buying them off eBay and going to pick them up in supermarket car parks, and they're not meeting the breeder and they're not seeing the home they've come from, they're not seeing the adult dogs.

"That's a bit like buying a packet of crisps in the garage. It's a bit like parenting.With the best will in the world there are good parents and there are parents who are not quite so good and it's the same when it comes to keeping animals."

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Chris, 61, continued: "There are a hell of a lot of stolen dogs about at the moment. If you buy a stolen dog you're breaking a family's heart potentially.

"If you can't be sure that [the dog] hasn't been stolen you've got to think that somewhere out there is a family, a person, in extraordinary distress."

"A key thing underlying all of this is education and that's what the RSPCA is all about, saying to people stop and think. People probably spend more time researching online whatTV they're going to buy than what dog they're going to get."

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Asked if he believed there should be legislation for dogs to be kept on leads in many areas, Chris said: "Yes, dogs have such a lot of effect on wildlife. A lot of dogs off the lead are a menace to wildlife.You've got dogs fighting other dogs.

"It's not an uncommon thing now to meet someone who has or has known someone whose dog has been bitten by another dog and been seriously injured.

"A couple of months ago my partner Charlotte spoke to a lady with a poodle.

"She told of the horror of being on the same road, walking along, when this dog comes along and attacked it. And the owner confessed immediately, 'Oh no he's done it again'."

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He added: "The woman was left with a massive vet's bill but thankfully the dog survived.

"We see an increasing number of dogs attacking people and we know there's some breeds that have a greater propensity to be attacking people or other dogs."

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Chris added: "It's about being accountable for your dog's actions and accepting responsibility.

"Dogs biting dogs, or attacks on humans, sometimes have terrible consequences.

"I felt for that poor old lady who had a poodle torn to pieces."

The RSPCA, which will receive donations from online fundraising platform Omaze, rescued 29 per cent more animals over Christmas 2021 than the previous year.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Pets are a major source of support and increase the ability to cope, which contributes to keeping cholesterol and blood pressure down.

Record numbers of Britons got pets during lockdown, driving the price up to £2,237 per puppy.

But the latest data from Pets4Homes shows that demands for pets fell by 42 per cent between January and April.

The RSPCA has seen an increase in the number of dogs entering their care this year, and warned this may be a "prelude" to dogs being abandoned as people return to the office.

  • For the Omaze Million Pound House Draw visit: omaze.co.uk . The draw closes next Sunday for online entries and June 7 for postal entries.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Dogs that have been spayed or neutered live longer than dogs who are intact.

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