New Dangerous Dogs Act Powers come into Force
Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force yesterday (Tuesday 13th May) meaning that owners who allow their pets to attack people now face tougher sentences. The maximum sentence for allowing a lethal attack has been raised from two to fourteen years imprisonment. It is also now a specific offence to allow an animal to attack an assistance dog, with owners who are found guilty facing up to three years in prison.
Figures from the Guide Dogs charity suggest that there may be as many as ten attacks on assistance dogs every month. Lord de Mauley, the animal welfare minister, said “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences for victims and families and it is only right those responsible should face tough punishments. Irresponsible dog owners will not only face longer prison sentences, but will also be liable for prosecution regardless of where an attack takes place, even in their own home.”
Councils will now be able to impose measures to prevent attacks, such as requiring owners to attend training classes, fencing in property where problem dogs are housed and muzzling problem animals in public. Since 2005 there have been 20 fatalities associated with attacks by dogs, 12 of which have involved children. Further measures to tackle irresponsible dog owners come into force in March 2015 when micro-chipping will be a legal requirement for all dogs in Wales and April 2016 when England will follow suit.