Owners of dangerous dogs which attack people in public will face stiffer penalties, including up to 18 months in prison, as Daybreak's Nick Dixon explains.
- More than 200,000 people each report being attacked by a dog
- Of those nearly 6,000 require hospital treatment
- Dog attacks cost the NHS close to 3.3 million pounds a year
Trevor Cooper, legal consultant for the Dogs Trust, says this tougher approach should serve as a stiff reminder to dog owners to keep their pets under proper control and to behave responsibly.
He says the new guidelines will encourage courts to focus on the key factors of culpability of the owner and the amount of harm to the victim.
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro
Steve Goody, director of external affairs at animal welfare charity Blue Cross, says tougher sentencing alone isn't enough to prevent dog attacks.
"The campaign to reform the current Dangerous Dogs Act has been dragging on for some 20 years now"
"We feel that there is an urgent need for preventative action, or dog attacks will continue to increase''
– Steve Goody, director of external affairs at Blue Cross
"We believe the introduction of useful, practical measures could be used specifically to target irresponsible dog owners before an attack happens"
Sentences for people who allow a dangerous dog to injure someone:
- The offence will now have a starting point of six months in jail
- Where appropriate, judges will be encouraged to consider up to 18 months
- The top of the sentencing range for possession of a prohibited dog has been set at six months custody
Ryan O'Meera, Editor of K9 magazine, says he doesn't have a problem with tougher sentencing but feels it won't have any affect on reducing the number of dog attacks. He says what we're currently seeing is the Government skirting around the issue, rather than solving the bigger problem.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Taylor says we've seen tragic instances of attacks by dangerous dogs, and irresponsible dog ownership has a serious impact on many of our communities. He says the clampdown sends a clear message that dog owners are responsible for keeping their animals under control.
– Animal Welfare Minister Lord Taylor
"We are determined to crack down on people who fail to keep their dogs under control, and earlier this year we consulted on measures to do this including extending the dangerous dogs laws so they cover private property''