Protecting pets: 100,000 support grieving owner’s petition to strengthen cat protections after XL bully attack

Becky lost her three-year-old cat Freya last month, after an XL bully jumped the fence into her sister’s garden
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A woman who suffered the traumatic loss of her much-loved pet is now fighting for cat owners whose pets are attacked by dogs to be able to hold their owners legally responsible.

Becky Quane, from Birmingham, started the petition after losing her three-year-old cat Freya last month, after an XL Bully jumped the fence into her sister’s garden and attacked her. As of Friday (26 January), more than 100,000 people have backed her Change.org petition to strengthen the protection for cats in UK law, which was started by a woman whose own cat was killed in a dog attack.

Ms Quane wrote that she had started the petition "with a heavy heart, having recently lost my beloved cat to an aggressive dog that had previously shown vicious behaviour". She continued: "The incident occurred on private property, yet the law offered no recourse.”

Freya was killed in a private yard after a dog jumped the fence (Photo: Becky Quane/Change.org)Freya was killed in a private yard after a dog jumped the fence (Photo: Becky Quane/Change.org)
Freya was killed in a private yard after a dog jumped the fence (Photo: Becky Quane/Change.org)

Currently, there is no specific offence to allow prosecution of dog owners whose dogs attack, injure or kill cats. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, which extended the law to cover dog attacks on assistance dogs - but not necessarily attacks on other animals.

In UK law, dogs typically enjoy more robust protections than cats - if a dog is attacked or hit by a car for example, it has to be reported and can be pursued legally, whereas this is not the case for cats. Police say that if a dog attacks farm animals then different regulations come into play - while deliberate dog attacks are an offence. However, the Lancashire force writes: "There have been decisions in the past by courts and authorities to suggest that it is the nature of a dog to kill and wound small animals. Therefore, in the event of your pet being wounded or killed by a dog, it is not a certainty that the police would take any action."

Ms Quane is calling for a change to the Dangerous Dogs Act so that owners can take legal action when their cats are harmed or killed by dogs due to negligence or malicious intent. Her call comes less than a week before the government’s ban on XL Bully dogs - the breed that killed Freya - comes into full force, on 1 February.

Madison Rogers, Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations, added: “Dog attacks on cats are a terrifying experience for the cat, their owner, and the wider community. The vast majority of dog owners are responsible and keep their dogs under control, however, when a dog does attack a cat, it is usually because the owner fails to control their dog.

“Such attacks often result in the death of a cat and witnesses can be left with long-lasting trauma. When vicious attacks take place in public, it can be deeply worrying and upsetting for the whole community," she said.

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