23rd April 2012
Defra has announced its long awaited proposals to 'tackle irresponsible dog ownership'. A public consultation was held, by the previous government, ending in June 2010, now the Government has laid down which proposals it plans, proposals which, if made law, will affect all dog owners in England.
Dangerous dogs and the people who fail to control them face a new clampdown in order to protect the public, Defra Minister of State Jim Paice revealed today.
Approximately 210,000 people a year are attacked by dogs in England alone, including 4,000 postal workers trying to deliver mail.
There have been five fatal dog attacks in homes since 2007 – four of them on children – and hospital admissions for serious dog bites have more than doubled over the past decade.
The Government is therefore extending existing dangerous dogs laws to any private property, closing a loophole in the current criminal law which only covers public land.
There will also be a short consultation on how to introduce more comprehensive micro-chipping of dogs, as called for by major animal charities and many members of the public. In addition there will be more support for the police, councils and charities dealing with irresponsible owners and dangerous dogs.
Jim Paice said:
“We are known as a nation of animal lovers who take proper care of our pets. But there are a minority of irresponsible dog owners who don’t. These people allow their dogs to menace or even attack innocent members of the public. This has to stop.
“We’ve all heard the stories of snarling dogs not being properly kept under control or heard from health workers, postal workers or social workers who are at risk of serious injury from out of control dogs while just doing their job, attending to people in their homes.
“Today we are announcing a comprehensive package of measures that tackle the problem head on, which will better protect legitimate visitors to private property and will enable the police to take action before someone is hurt or killed.”
The plans also put forward proposals to allow the police, when dealing with any dogs which are subject to proceedings under the Dangerous Dogs Act, to take a common sense decision as to whether the dog really needs to be kept away from their owners until the outcome of proceedings.
Jim Paice added:
“Our plans must strike the right balance between protecting the public from dangerous dogs and ensuring that safe and properly looked after pets don’t need to be wrenched from their home unnecessarily.
“We’re giving the police more discretion to take common-sense decisions where dogs are clearly not a threat by ending the requirement that they be seized and kennelled, at great cost to the taxpayer and distress to the owner involved, while a decision is taken on whether to exempt the dog from being destroyed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.”
Defra’s proposals are:
In addition, in order to improve consistency of sentencing the Sentencing Council, has been consulting on the sentences available to courts for owners of dangerous dogs, especially those who allow their animals to attack, and the Home Office has been examining measures to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Details of the consultation can be found here: www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/04/23/dangerous-dogs-1204/.
The Sentencing Council recently consulted on proposals about how the owners of dangerous dogs should be sentenced by the courts. The Sentencing Guidelines are due to be released in mid-May 2012 due to come into force 3 months later in August 2012.
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