1. ITV Report

Tough laws to prevent dog attacks come into force

Photo: PA

Fresh powers to tackle dangerous dogs come into force today, which authorities hope will prevent thousands of attacks every year.

Police and local councils will be able to fine dog owners £20,000 if they fail to take action when their pet has been aggressive.

Owners could also be ordered to take their mutt to dog training classes, wear a muzzle or keep it on a lead, if a member of the public complains.

Powers will also be given to require a dog to be microchipped and/or neutered and for fencing to be repaired to prevent a dog leaving a property.

Metropolitan Police dog handlers remove a pitbull during a raid on an address in south London. Credit: PA

Tougher jail sentences for owners whose pet pooch viscously attacks someone were introduced earlier this year.

Owners face 14 years if the attack is fatal, five for an injury and three if their pooch hurts a guide dog.

In 2013, 6,740 people required hospital treatment for dog attacks - an increase of 6% from 2012.

In total, eight adults and 13 children have died from dog attacks since 2005.

14-year-old Jade Anderson was killed last year after she was attacked by two Staffordshire bull terriers and two bull mastiffs, when visiting a friend's house in Wigan.

Lord de Mauley with a cocker spanial puppy, as he launched a campaign to have pets microchipped in June. Credit: PA

Animal welfare minister Lord de Mauley dubbed dog attacks "devastating" and said the powers would help to "prevent attacks before they occur".

Dog attacks are devastating for victims and their families which is why we are taking tough action against those who allow them to happen.

Police and local authorities will now have more powers to demand that irresponsible dog owners take steps to prevent attacks before they occur. This is on top of the tougher prison sentences we introduced earlier this year for owners who allow their dogs to attack people and assistance dogs.

– Lord de Mauley
Royal Mail hailed the fresh powers which they said would help Credit: PA

Postmen everywhere could breathe a little easier because of these new powers, Shaun Davis, of the Royal Mail, said:

Royal Mail campaigned for changes to the Dangerous Dog Act to ensure our postmen and women are protected when they enter private property, including a customer's garden.

We are pleased that these further changes will help police forces and local authorities use their new legal powers to prevent dog attacks.

– Shaun Davis