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Criminal law: Call for sentencing reform for irresponsible dog owners

Government has called for harsher sentencing for irresponsible dog owners, reports the Daily Mail.

With a reported 16 deaths in the past eight years as a direct result of dog mauling, ministers have called for harsher punishments for owners who are clearly not in control of their animals.

The current law imposes a maximum sentence of two years for the dog owners. There is now a push to amend this law to inflict harsher penalties.

The new proposals will see owners receive a maximum sentence of ten years for injury to a person or to a guide dog and life imprisonment for an attack resulting in the death of a person.

Members of the public will be able to comment on this proposal as the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs set the new consultation in motion yesterday. Changes in the law will be evidenced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

On average, 210,000 dog attacks take place each year, 6,000 of which require their victims to visit a hospital. Fines and minimal sentences for the owners are simply not enough. This call for a change in the law somewhat reflects the publicity fatal dog attacks have received. Jade Anderson was just 14 years old when she was mauled to death by four dogs owned by the mother of her school friend.

The parents of Jade Anderson and Paul Massey, a boy just four years of age when his uncle's dog killed him in a fatal attack, have petitioned the Prime Minister for an increase in preventative measures.

Government ministers have shown their full support for the implementation of harsher punishments.

General Secretary, Billy Hayes, told the Daily Mail: "Current sentencing arrangements do not match the serious nature of the offences. This consultation is very welcome and hopefully indicates the Government is serious about tackling the problem of irresponsible dog ownership."

With such high levels of support, including that of Animal Welfare Minister, Lord de Mauley, we can expect to see a change in the law regarding punishments for the owners of violent dogs in the very near future.

Source:

Owners of killer dogs may face life: Crackdown after 16 fatal maulings in eight years (The Daily Mail)