The Government has outlined proposals that could see a huge increase in the maximum penalty for failing to control dangerous pets, with up to 14 years in jail for an owner if their dog attacks and kills someone.
The plans, proposed yesterday (October 29) are a significant toughening of the current law, under which the maximum penalty owners face for aggravated attacks by their pet is two years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.
The plans could also see owners locked up for five years if their dog badly injures someone or three years if the animal kills a guide dog.
Ministers compared the existing penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs with those for other offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum term of 14 years in jail and said that the new, longer sentence would better reflect the “devastating impact” dangerous dogs can have on victims.
The proposals have been welcomed by the Communication Workers Union, which represents the largest number of dog attack victims in the UK, given that 5,000 postal workers are attacked each year, and charities assisting the blind and partially sighted.
The proposed laws also include powers for councils to require owners to attend dog training courses, to put their pets on a lead in public and to ensure a dog is in an enclosed area. Councils will be given the power to order the neutering of an animal.
Parliament will now consider the changes as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill and, if approved, they will come into force in 2014.
The Government has already announced measures to ensure all dogs are microchipped by 2016.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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