Harsher Prison Sentences For Owners of Dangerous Dogs

Harsher Prison Sentences For Owners of Dangerous Dogs

“It’s the other end of the leash – dangerous dog owners should be culpable”

'It's the other end of the leash - dangerous dog owners should be culpable'

Owners of dogs that attack or kill someone could be jailed for ten years, under new proposals being considered by the British government.
The current maximum prison sentence is two years. But critics say the changes won’t go far in preventing dog attacks happening in the first place. 

Sixteen people have been killed by dogs in the UK in the last eight years.

In March, a teenage girl died after being mauled to death by a pack of dogs in Greater Manchester. Fourteen-year-old Jade Anderson was attacked by four dogs inside a friend’s house in Wigan.

Outdated current laws

However, under current dog laws in the UK, owners cannot be prosecuted if the attack takes place on private property.

According to The Communication Workers Union, 6,000 postal workers are bitten or attacked by aggressive dogs each year – and almost two-thirds of these happen on private property.

Nevertheless, UK dog laws haven’t been updated for more than 20 years.

In 1991, the Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced after an increase in the number of attacks on children by aggressive dogs.

The Act made owning four particular breeds and cross breeds of dogs including the Pit Bull Terrier, illegal without a court exemption.

Wrong type of owner

Laura Vallance, Public Affairs Officer at welfare charity The Dogs Trust said the legislation never improved the problem in Britain.

“The legislation brought in in 1991 has actually made things worse. It has made illegal dogs more attractive to the wrong type of owner.”

According to the Kennel Club which represents canine owners in the UK, the vast majority of dog attacks are the fault of irresponsible owners, who haven’t trained their pet correctly – or have purposefully trained them to behave aggressively.

Private property issue

The Kennel Club is calling for a new Dog Control Bill and the removal of the breed specific legislation from the Dangerous Dogs Act. It says that the majority of dog attacks occur in the home.

The Dog Control Bill will make attacks on private property a criminal offence and put greater responsibility on owners to ensure that their dogs are safe.

Stan Rawlinson is a leading Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer. He thinks owners should be held more responsible for their pet’s behaviour.

“It’s the people who create these dangerous dogs – the breeders, who should be made culpable. Longer sentences are really going to make a difference and I applaud this stance.”

The current maximum prison sentence for allowing a dog dangerously out of control to kill someone is two years.

Making owners accountable

According to the Government’s Animal Welfare Minister the laws need toughening up to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice.

Dog behavioural expert Stan Rawlinson:

“The UK and America are similar in the problems they’ve got but America does have more of a roaming dog problem.

“But in Scandinavia there is no problem with roaming dogs and there is no problem with aggression because only registered dog breeders are allowed to breed – and rescue centres are empty.”

Last month the parents of Jade Anderson, who was mauled by a pack of dogs presented a petition at number 10 Downing Street calling for action to prevent any more deaths.

The government’s harsher sentence proposals will be open for consultation until September 1

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