As the government promotes microchips for every dog the evidence in a new peer reviewed paper says there is no real evidence for the seeming growth of abuse of dogs and their involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour:
Despite the plethora of legislation since the nineteenth century, there remains little systematic statistical evidence regarding trends and patterns in recorded animal abuse. As Pierpoint and Maher ( pp.485-6) note, the little that is known about the prevalence of reported animal abuse is derived from court records and animal welfare charities. Throughout this period it would appear that the RSPCA has consistently brought the majority of prosecutions to the courts. However, there is a major evidential hole awaiting any attempt to assess systematically the trends in prevalence of animal abuse both over time and cross-sectionally at any given time in Britain. Most significantly, it was accepted by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the post-legislative assessment of AWA in December 2010 that there was no national enforcement database regarding the enforcement of the Act despite the original intention of this being part of a regulatory impact assessment .
Furthermore, animal cruelty offences recorded by the police are not collected by the Home Office – we therefore have little other than anecdotal testimony in the absence of sustained criminological research to rely on in dealing with the seeming growth in the problem, for example, of abuse of dogs and their
involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour (see Hughes et al. ).
More on this incredibly important report later, but for now it is clear that the government should re-think its strategy of punishing every dog owner for the perhaps non-existent increase in crimes of the few.
The government should certainly review the idea of allowing the RSPCA access to any such database of dogs and their owners.
The SHG recommends everyone with an interest in dogs and/or the RSPCA to read RSPCA and the criminology of social control