Southend West MP calls for fatal dog-on-dog attacks to be criminal offence against owner

  • Watch as Southend West MP Anna Firth outlines her case in Parliament.

The MP for Southend West has launched a new bill in Parliament, calling for fatal dog-on-dog attacks to be made a criminal offence for the owner responsible.

Conservative MP Anna Firth wants to address an "oversight" in the law which she says denies justice to dog owners if their animals are attacked and killed by other dogs.

Ms Firth said she began campaigning on the issue after a man in her constituency, Michael Joannou, came to her "incredibly distressed" and "inconsolable" and saying his dog Millie had been fatally injured in an attack by another dog in a local park.

Mr Joannou, 63, took ownership of Millie from his ex-partner Emilie after she died.

"It happened in seconds," he said.

"I was screaming at the owner to remove the dog. Somehow the owner did get the dog off. This dog had just come at her - honestly it was like something in the Serengeti."

  • Michael Joannou said he will never be able to get over what happened.

He said Millie was then taken to the vet where she had to be put down.

"The police couldn't do anything," he added. "It means that something you love can be tornapart and killed with no consequences.

"It's like medieval law. I'm standing up for it because it's wrong, and what I'm asking for is right."

The campaign for "Emilie's Law" is aimed at ensuring greater legal protections for dog owners, with Ms Firth saying the number of dog-on-dog attacks has "skyrocketed" in recent years.

She said a freedom of information request answered by 28 out of 43 police forces shows the number of recorded dog-on-dog attacks rose from 1,700 in 2016 to 11,559 in 2021, a near seven-fold increase.

Millie was so badly injured she had to be put to sleep. Credit: ITV Meridian

Ms Firth also said the campaign builds on the legacy of her predecessor, Sir David Amess, who was an active campaigner for animal rights before he was murdered in 2021.

She said: "It started with Michael coming through the door, just devastated.

"It touched my own heart as a dog owner myself, but it also builds on Sir David's legacy as well.

"So I started looking into this, and yes it's absolutely the case that under current legislation, under the Dangerous Dogs Act, attacks on humans are covered, assistance dogs and guide dogs are covered... nothing for pet dogs.

"This is clearly an oversight because pet dogs are part of the family now.

  • Southend West MP Anna Firth speaking in the House of Commons.

"It just isn't right that somebody can irresponsibly allow their dog to actually fatally injure your dog and then there's just no comeback on that whatsoever."

She added: "This isn't about demonising dogs and specific breeds.

"It's about actually addressing that this is an animal welfare issue, it's a dog responsibility issue."

Ms Firth said her Bill aims to keep the proposed change narrow and focus on fatal dog-on-dog attacks.

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