Important New Legislation
There is a very serious change to the law regarding dogs. It can affect all dog owners, or the person in charge of the dog at the time of the incident.
The changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, will come into force on 13th May 2014.
The new law under the bill called: Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 (AsBC&P Act) will extend the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991. (DDA 1991)
These far reaching changes, will see far harsher punishments for owners and people who were responsible for the dog at the time of the incident.
This could mean dog walkers, dog sitters or family or friends who had offered to look after the dog would be deemed as responsible for the behaviour of the dog if an attack occurs.
These people could end up with a criminal conviction, a jail sentence and a very large fine.
Amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act in England and Wales (Scotland has its own laws). The first in 23 years, will see far tougher dog control laws and sentencing.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill, which includes amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act, will now allow the prosecution of owners for dog attacks on private property. Your own home or garden, literally anywhere
Dog owners will now not only face longer prison sentences for the actions of their animals, they’ll also be liable for prosecution regardless of where an attack takes place.
New preventative powers for police and local authorities will ensure they can act early, to help stop dog attacks before they happen.
These new rules mean that owners, or the person responsible for the dog when the incident occurred. Will be held accountable and face a substantial increase in sentencing penalties.
Compulsory microchipping will also help bring about more responsible dog ownership Though this does not come into law until 2016.
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The AsBC&P Act brings in five main changes to the law concerning dog control which will apply in both England and Wales from 13th May 2014:
- It extends the scope of the law to cover private places (with a limited exception) in addition to public places.
- It increases the prison sentence for those convicted of some offences.
- It creates a new offence for a dog attacking an assistance dog.
- It provides powers for a constable or an appointed local authority officer to seize a dangerously out of control dog in a private place.
- It sets out specific considerations concerning the suitability of an owner and the behaviour of a dog a Court must think about if it is not to order the destruction of the dog.
This is a massive change in the law and should be taken seriously. I urge all dog owners with dogs that have any aggression issues, to consider employing a Trainer or better still a Behaviourist who is specifically experienced in this field of work.
If you think your dog may fall foul of this law then consider getting a Muzzle, It would very difficult to convict a person if they had muzzled the dog. see Muzzles
They should be able to assess the dog, and put together a program to reduce the likelihood of an attack, Thereby reducing the likelihood of a criminal offence happening, which could result in a jail term, a fine or both and the possibility of the dog being destroyed.
The majority of the cases I have to assess, is between a dog fighting another dog, one of the owners breaks it up and gets bitten. It is called “Redirected Aggression” The Government is taking these attacks very seriously. It is time that we realised, that if our dogs can be a danger, it is our responsibility to do something about it.
I think it is important to point out that your dog does not have to bite, to be deemed dangerously out of control in a public place. Read this:
Defined by section 10(3) DDA, “On any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person, whether or not it actually does”
That could mean that if your dog is in your back or front garden, and it acts aggressively to people next door or walking past. Then under the law you could face a very serious criminal prosecution.
Sentencing Maximum Increases:
From May 13th 2014 onwards the maximum prison sentences for those convicted of having a dog dangerously out of control will be increased to;
Up to 14 years if a person dies as a result of being injured by a dog, up to 5 years where a person is injured by a dog, and up to 3 years where an assistance dog is injured or killed by a dog.
If you want more in depth information on these changes then for further reading click the links below.