Almost 200 dangerous and illegal dogs have been destroyed on the orders of South Yorkshire Police in the past three years.
New figures, revealed under The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, show 191 such dogs have been put down, along with 16 stray dogs.
A total of 63 dangerous and illegal dogs were euthanised in 2012, with a further 70 put to sleep in 2013 and 58 in 2014.
Thirteen stray dogs were put down last year, compared with three in 2013 and none the year before
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said decisions about what dogs to put down are taken on an individual basis and may take account of court orders. The police do not distinguish between how many of the dogs destroyed were deemed dangerous and how many illegal in its collected statistics.
The spokesman said: “Officers follow Crown Prosecution Service, Association of Chief Police Officers and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs guidelines. Each case is dependent on its own merits.”
Last month, at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court, magistrates ordered the destruction of a jack russell-cross named Brody after it injured a member of the public while dangerously out of control on Asline Road, Sharrow, last October.
Owner Jennifer Grounsell, aged 66, of Sharrow Lane, Sharrow, admitted being the owner of the dangerously out of control dog and was disqualified from keeping a dog for life.
And earlier this month, 53-year-old Istvan Horanszky, of Shortwood Villas, Hoyland, Barnsley, admitted being the owner of two Japanese akita dogs that had been dangerously out-of-control on Shortwood Way, Hoyland between December 1 and January 13.
Magistrates in Barnsley fined Horanszky £585 and ordered a compensation payment of £250. They said the dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public at all times – or face being put down if the order is breached.
However, the RSPCA today said it believes the current Dangerous Dogs Act used to make decisions is ‘unjustifiable, ineffective and punishes certain types of dogs for the way they look’.
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, owning four types of dog – the pit bull terrier, the dogo Argentino, fila Brasiliero and the Japanese tosa – is prohibited.
A spokesman for the national animal charity said: “The RSPCA believes the application of breed-specific legislation, which bans four specific types of dog through section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act is unjustifiable, ineffective and punishes certain types of dogs for the way they look.
“It impacts on the welfare of many dogs whose behaviour poses no risk to human safety.
“We want Governments to adopt a legislative approach that recognises that any individual dog, irrespective of breed or type, can display aggression towards people, and that responsibility for this lies with the owners.
“Aggression as a behaviour it is very complex – whether or not a dog uses aggression is influenced by a range of factors including how they are bred, reared and experiences throughout their lifetime.”