The Government has introduced stronger laws about dangerous dogs, and increased the penalties that can apply to people who allow dogs to be dangerously out of control.
It’s now against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere. This change came into force in May 2014 so that people could be prosecuted if their dogs carried out an attack anywhere, including in the owner’s own home.
It increased the maximum prison sentences to:
• 14 years for a fatal dog attack
• 5 years for injury
• 3 years for an attack on an assistance dog
It has also introduced new laws to help local authorities or the police to prevent dog attacks, which came into force on 20 October 2014.
They apply if a dog is causing a nuisance to people, for example by repeatedly escaping from a garden, or by acting aggressively towards visitors or other animals.
If someone complains to the council or police about a dog, 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
Police and local authorities can demand that owners take action to prevent a dog attack; if the owners don’t do so, then they will risk a fine of up to £20,000