On 13th May 2014, the Dangerous Dogs Act was overhauled to include tougher sentences for those convicted of offences. Another big difference to this Act is that it now also covers incidents that occur on private property in addition to public spaces; this includes the front and back garden of peoples’ homes.
Other changes to the Act are as follows:
- It is now be an offence for your dog to attack an assistance dog (Guide Dog, Hearing Dog etc.), with guilty owners facing up to three years in prison.
- Prison sentences have increased for those convicted of some offences – Maximum prison sentences in England and Wales for allowing a dog to fatally attack someone have increased from 2 years to 14 years, while the term handed down when injury is caused is up from 2 years to 5 years.
Many people have welcomed these legislation changes and agree that tougher sentences are necessary to deter owners from keeping dangerous animals. In October 2013, 14 year old Jade Lomas Anderson from Bolton was savagely attacked and killed by a group of out of control dogs.
Michael Anderson, Jade’s step-father, said the new legislation was a good thing, but more still needed to be done. He said: “It’s been a long time coming, it really should have been the case a few years ago though. We’ve lost our daughter, and hopefully no one will have to go through this again, but if they do then there is more chance of justice.”
So, as a dog owner what can you do to reduce the risk of your dog attacking an innocent person on your property?
Ensure your gardens are safe
Numerous delivery service employees are injured by dog bites each year but now legislation is in place to ensure their safety. Therefore, you need to make sure that any visitor can safely access your front door without encountering your dog.
Manage your dog when someone knocks
This change in legislation should be a wakeup call to all dog owners to ensure their dogs are under control when they open the door otherwise they risk committing a criminal offence.
It is not unusual for a dog to be reactive to any visitor to your door, so you need to decide now how you are going to manage that situation. The easiest thing to do is to shut your dog in another room. You also need to consider how your dog greets people. What you view as a dog being friendly by jumping up at visitors may be seen as threatening behaviour by a stranger.