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Dangerous dogs sentencing consultation begins

People who train dogs to be aggressive and use them as a weapon could face the toughest penalties under new sentencing guidelines.

The Sentencing Council has drafted new guidance for courts after maximum sentences were increased last year.

Metropolitan Police dog handlers removing a pitbull during a raid. Credit: PA Wire

The guidelines are out for public consultation from today until June 9 - people are being asked for their views on the factors that should be taken into account when punishing someone for the offence.

At least 21 people, including 13 children, have died in England and Wales in the past 10 years from dog attacks.

MPs say dog ownership laws do not go far enough

MPs have warned that the Government's moves to tackle irresponsible dog ownership do not go far enough.

Moves to tackle irresponsible dog ownership do not go far enough MPs warn Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Plans to close a loophole which allowed dog owners to escape prosecution if the animal attacked someone in a private property have been announced.

Backed by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, it said the plans fell short of creating a "comprehensive and effective regime for tackling the increasing problem of out-of-control dogs".


Teen admits to selling dog for £2,000

Dr Simon Harding, of Middlesex University London, interviewed illegal and legal dog owners as well as gang members as part of his research.

The research found that dangerous dogs are being bred by young men as a business asset in drug deals, debt collection and for their gang image.

A 16-year-old boy told him: "It's not just a dog, it's a half bull mastiff and half pit bull. I'll probably get another - we are looking to breed it - and we would get about £2,000 per dog."

Another boy, 17, said about pit bulls: "People know that if you are breeding you are making money from them."

Dangerous dogs 'traded like mobile phones'

For many young people, dogs are increasingly viewed as a commodity which can be traded up or down like a mobile phone.

It has become less about whether the dog will fit into family life and more about, 'What will this dog do for me, how much will it make me?'.

Through their reputation for aggression or ability to intimidate [bull breeds] are also used in drug deals, gambling debts and loan-sharking, where their owners do not have recourse to law if the money owed is not paid because his business is illegal.

The dog says, 'I am here to be taken seriously' - it acts as a 'minder' and a 'heavy' when collecting dues. People believe that possession of an aggressive dog means that the threats posed by such men will be carried out.

– Dr Simon Harding, Middlesex University London

The Dangerous Dogs Act

Dogs that are classed as 'dangerous' are being bred a business asset in drug deals, debt collection and for their gang image, according to new research.

  • The Dangerous Dogs Act is a law introduced in 1991 following a spate of attacks by aggressive or uncontrollable dogs.
  • Dangerous dogs are classified by type, not breed, which means that a dog’s physical appearance will determine whether it’s deemed to be prohibited under the law.
  • If your dog is seized by the police and found to be a banned type, the court can use its discretion to place them on the list of exempted dogs.
  • This means that instead of them being destroyed, you can own them provided you follow certain conditions.
  • The dog has to be muzzled and kept on a lead in public, they must be registered, insured, neutered, tattooed and microchipped.
  • Defra has announced that all dogs must be microchipped from 2016.
  • Changes to the law will also allow owners of dogs who attack on private property to be prosecuted.

Dangerous dogs 'bred for drug deals and crime'

Dangerous dogs are being bred by young men as an asset in drug deals, debt collection and for their gang image, according to new research.

More young men were using mastiffs, pit bulls, akitas and other aggressive dogs as a "commodity" for security and making money in gangs, the Middlesex University study found.

Dangerous dogs are being bred as assets, research has found Credit: PA

The study found the most aggressive dogs could be sold for more than £400, with owners building up their pet's muscles with vitamin supplements and even injecting them with steroids for fights.

The study, which will be presented to the British Sociological Association annual conference today, also found there has been a rise of 551% in hospital admissions for dog bites since 1991.

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