Anita Mehdi, 56, from Middlesbrough, is petitioning to change the Breed Specific Legislation after her ‘obedient and gentle’ Staffy Lola was seized and muzzled for fitting tape measure requirements
Image: Anita Mehdi)
A woman is petitioning to change the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) after her “obedient and gentle” dog became forced to wear a muzzle every time she leaves the house.
Anita Mehdi, 56, from Middlesbrough, will debate to repeal “flawed” dangerous dog requirements in Westminster Hall on June 6 with Christina Rees MP.
Anita has secured 113,000 signatures with pet owners, animal activists and charities supporting her fight to change the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 requirements.
She told The Mirror: “A dog should not be deemed dangerous by a tape measure – it’s ludicrous. Dogs should be categorised by their actions instead of their appearance.”
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In 2019, five-year-old Lola was seized by police after a member of the public reported her as a vicious pit bull.
Lola, who is an American bulldog crossed with a Staffordshire bull terrier, was at risk of being euthanised for meeting the measurements on the BSL.
The BSL restricts the ownership of certain types of dogs based on their appearance – despite there being “no research to demonstrate that these breeds or types are any more aggressive”.
Anita said: “The officer assessed Lola and confirmed she was a well-balanced, obedient and gentle dog that showed no signs of aggression.
“The kennels also commented on how lovely and good-natured she was.”
The court agreed that Lola was not at risk to the public, but because she was labelled a BSL ‘type’, she must wear a muzzle and be kept on a lead outside for the rest of her life.
“No more long walks, no more playing fetch with the ball. It is so unfair. Our lives have changed forever,” Anita said.
When Lola returned home, she developed anxiety and “trembled at the sight of her muzzle”.
“She was completely traumatised,” Anita said.
Lola is much happier now, but the pair only go out on walks once a day, and often Lola doesn’t want to leave the house at all.
Anita is even unable to get Lola health insurance for being a BSL ‘type’.
A statement on the Blue Cross website reads: “Section one of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans four types of breed based on their physical appearance, rather than whether the dog has behaved dangerously.
“The word ‘type’ is important because it means that it isn’t just pure breeds that are illegal to own, sell, breed, give away or abandon, but crossbreeds of these or any dog which fits the physical description of these breeds as well.
“So, a dog can be seized and killed based on their head and body measurements alone.”
Three years ago, Anita began petitioning to exempt dogs assessed by experts as safe from BSL.
She has since debated the topic in Parliament – but still nothing has changed.
Anita hopes her third attempt will make a difference to the lives of dogs like Lola.
Her petition reads: “The Government should repeal breed specific provisions in dangerous dogs legislation. We believe these provisions are a flawed approach to public safety and an ethical failing with regards to animal welfare.”
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