LONDON (Reuters) – The Conservatives said the government made a “humiliating U-turn” Tuesday by dropping week-old plans to force dog owners to insure their pets, an unpopular move just before an election expected in May.
The Labour government said it scrapped the insurance proposal because it did not want to penalise the law-abiding majority of Britain’s five million dog owners.
“Labour have dithered for years on this issue and then rushed out a policy consultation weeks before an election that was immediately seen as totally flawed,” Conservative environment spokesman Nick Herbert said.
With the election campaign in full swing, both parties have tried to appeal to voters by portraying themselves as tough on crime and anti-social behaviour.
The insurance plan was included in a public consultation about the best way to tighten the existing law after a series of high-profile dog attacks.
Each week in Britain, more than 100 people are admitted to hospital after dog attacks. Organised dog-fighting is also on the rise as is illegal ownership of dangerous dogs, particularly by gangs. The RSPCA charity recorded a 12-fold increase in organised dog fights between 2004 and 2008.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the government will now look at other ideas.
A law passed in 1991 banned four dog types: the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro.