Dr Neil Hudson MP, the only Veterinary Surgeon in the House of Commons, has this week chaired an emergency session of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and also raised the issue in the Chamber about long term measures to tackle dog attacks.
The importance of Dr Hudson’s parliamentary work has come into sharp relief with a spate of high-profile dog attacks thought to be perpetrated by American XL Bully dogs which resulted in significant trauma and even tragic fatalities. Following this, Government is bringing forward rapid legislation to add American XL Bully Dogs to the Dangerous Dogs Act, thus preventing them from causing harm within communities.
Having triggered the emergency session into American XL Bully Dogs, Dr Hudson was invited to chair the Committee on Wednesday (18th Oct) due to his professional expertise as a veterinary surgeon. The Committee heard from animal welfare charity, legal and veterinary experts about the wider implications of the ban, including practicalities.
Dr Hudson followed up on (19th Oct) by raising the ban in the Chamber with Dr Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for DEFRA. He reaffirmed his support for the ban before asking about wider holistic long-term solutions to dog attacks including responsible pet ownership, tackling illicit breeding and better training for dogs.
The Secretary of State praised Dr Hudson for his “great credibility in this field recognising his professional experience as a vet” before affirming Dr Hudson’s suggestions.
Speaking afterwards, Dr Neil Hudson, MP said:
“The Government and the Opposition are united on the need for a ban of the American XL Bully Dog and I am using my professional background as a vet to help to progress this necessary urgent legislation forward. I firmly believe we need to do this to keep both people and other animals safe.
“As we have seen with our urgent EFRA Select Committee session there is a body of work that must be completed at pace to work more broadly on the complex issues of defining XL Bully Dogs, to look at the amnesty measures for those dogs that are deemed safe in the transition period, and longer term work on responsible and safe pet ownership.”
- Dr Hudson chairing the EFRA Committee here.
- Dr quizzing the DEFRA Secretary from 09:37:15 here.
- Dr Hudson’s appearance on Venessa Feltz’s Talk TV programme from 1:40:20 here.
Dr Hudson’s full exchange with the Secretary of State in Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions on Thursday 19th October:
Dr Neil Hudson MP asked:
“What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on introducing the proposed ban on American Bully XL dogs.”
Dr Therese Coffey replied:
“The Prime Minister made a clear decision about introducing the proposed ban on American XL Bully Dogs recognising the horrific consequences that have happened with dog attacks recently and the disproportionate amount of those being undertaken by such dogs. We are working at pace with the legislation, but importantly, of course, how this will be put into practice, and I hope to say things on this soon.”
Dr Neil Hudson MP followed up:
“I thank the Secretary of State for her answer. As a Veterinary Surgeon, I strongly agree with the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State that we need to ban the dangerous American XL Bully Dog as soon as possible to keep both people and other animals safe.
“Does my Right Honourable Friend agree with me that in parallel to this necessary urgent action. We need to undertake important work with the public on responsible dog breeding, responsible dog ownership, better training and socialising of dogs as part of a holistic, long-term solution to dog attacks.”
Dr Therese Coffey replied:
“Well, my Honourable Friend has got great credibility in this field recognising his professional experience as a vet. And, I'm very conscious, there are many owners of XL Bully Dogs who are very passionate about their animals, their pets and understand that. That is why we are taking - while we're working at pace - we're taking our time to get the definitions right and indeed the transition period that we anticipate.
“But it is important that all dog owners are working to make sure that their dogs are behaving and have appropriate training. That's why we did establish also a task force and expecting them, including dog welfare charities, to respond to us by the end of the year. And we can take forward potentially some of their recommendations.”
List of witnesses for the EFRA session:
- Dr Samantha Gaines, Head of Companion Animals at RSPCA
- Dr David Martin, Group Animal Welfare Advisor at IVC Evidensia
- James McNally, Partner at Slee Blackwell Solicitors
- Dr Lawrence Newport, Lecturer in Law at Royal Holloway University of London