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Dangerous Dog Prosecutions Rise Despite New Laws

10 February 2015

ANALYSIS - Despite new laws protecting the public from dangerous dogs, figures reveal the number of prosecutions under the Dangerous Dogs Act has hit its highest level in five years in the East of England, writes Gemma Hyland.

But is this due to an increase in violent dogs, or the public feeling more confident in reporting dangerous attacks?

According to figures obtained exclusively by the BBC through the Freedom of Information Act, more than 1,200 offences were recorded in 2014, with the total number of offences rising each year since 2011.

How do the new laws protect you?

Tough new legal powers introduced in October 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.

In 2014, 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

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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