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How Do New Dog Laws Affect You?

21 October 2014

ANALYSIS - From now on, if a complaint is made to the police or local council about your dog, you could be forced to take action or risk fines of up to £20,000.

Tough new legal powers introduced yesterday hope to prevent thousands of dog attacks every year.

From now on if a complaint has been made about a dog to the council or police, its owners could be ordered to do any or all of the following:

  • Attend dog training classes
  • Muzzle the dog or require it to be on a lead in public
  • Require the dog to be microchipped and/or neutered
  • Repair fencing to prevent the dog leaving the property

The important thing to remember here is that this is not an automatic punishment for all dog owners, but rather a crackdown on the irresponsible ones.

But what does this mean?

Local Authorities now have the power to take action on dog owners that allow their dog to behave in a manner that is perceived as ‘unreasonable’ or a ‘nuisance’, which affects the quality of life for those around them, and will be enforced in all public places.

If this problem is deemed to be continuing and persistent, they can impose action on the dog owner, which could include a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100, or a maximum fine of £2,500.

However, Dogs Trust welcomes the announcement that if a dog is seen to be a ‘nuisance,’ in the first instance before any fine is imposed, owners will be required to meet specific conditions which might include leashing, muzzling or training.

Earlier this year, legal changes were made to enable prosecution for a dog attack on private property and maximum prison sentences were extended to:

  • 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack
  • Five years, from two years, for injury
  • Three years for an attack on an assistance dog

Do new laws go far enough?

Steve Goody, Blue Cross Director of External Affairs, says: “After some twenty years of campaigning, these new powers to make dog owners more accountable for their pets’ behaviour are very welcome, but it remains to be seen whether they will go far enough to tackle out of control dogs and dog attacks.

“We need a consistent approach and sufficient resources for police and local authorities to be able to enforce the range of orders that they will now have at their disposal.

“Blue Cross reaches thousands of children and young people every year teaching about anti-social behaviour with dogs but alongside these initiatives, real and effective preventative measures are the key to preventing further attacks.”

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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