Tougher Sentences for Dangerous Dog Owners
Owners convicted of dangerous dog’s offences will face stiffer penalties in England and Wales from July. New guidelines from the Sentencing Council follow changes to legislation in 2014 and introduce an extension to the law to cover attacks on private property. The maximum jail sentence for a fatal dog attack will now be 14 years.
Offences where owners are considered to have ‘high culpability’ will carry the harshest sentences. Examples include allowing a dog to be used as a weapon, training a dog to be aggressive or being in possession of a banned breed. People who commit offences whilst disqualified from owning a dog, will face the toughest penalties.
Richard Williams, a member of the Sentencing Council explained the reasons behind the changes: “We know that the majority of dog owners are responsible and ensure their pets do not put anyone in danger, but there are some irresponsible owners whose dogs do put people at risk of injury and in some cases even death.”
He continued; “The new guidelines will help ensure a consistent and proportionate approach to sentencing following the significant changes to the law. They allow for a broad range of sentences to be given, depending on the seriousness of each offence, and encourage courts where appropriate to use their other powers to ban people from keeping dogs or to order them to pay compensation to victims.”
Figures released last year showed the number of people taken to hospital as a result of dog attacks had gone up 76% in the past decade.