Police now have legal powers to help prevent dog attacks, including being able to demand that owners take action or pay a fine of up to £20,000.
In 2013, 6740 people were hospitalised as a result of dog attacks. The new legislation, which comes into force today, is hoped to significantly reduce the number of dog attacks each year.
Police can demand irresponsible dog owners to take action in the event of a complaint. Examples of this include muzzling the dog and keeping them on a leash, taking the pup to training classes and repairing fencing so the dog cannot escape their property. Owners may also be asked to neuter or microchip their dog, although the latter is set to become compulsory for all pet owners in the near future. If no action is taken, a fine of up to £20k can be charged.
The powers are broken down into different categories depending on the severity of the complaint.
A Community Protection Notice is low-level and can be issued if a dog’s behaviour is having a consistent negative impact on the lift of those who live locally. An example of this might be dogs being allowed to run loose without supervision, or owners who continuously allow their dogs to chase cats. In the event of a complaint a written warning is issued detailing reasonable time for the behaviour to stop.
In the event of a higher level incident an Injuction may be issued. Examples of this may be if owners allow their dog to intimidate and attack other animals - but any anti-social behaviour that has or is likely to cause distress, alarm or harassment to any person is covered by the injunction. Police or the council can then request for a particular action to be taken such as muzzling or neutering the dog. They can also prohibit access to certain areas at certain times or insist the dog and their owner attend training classes.
A Criminal Behaviour Order is reserved for serious and continuing anti-social behaviour with dogs, where the owner has already allowed their dog to cause stress or alarm to a person. This may include when owners use their dogs to intimidate people and is hoped that the issue of this order will prevent further anti-social behaviour. However, only people convicted of a criminal offence can be issued one.
The Royal Mail were pleased to see the changes introduced, as it will help protect their postmen and women from being bitten when entering private property. Many animal charities and organisations also welcomed the new laws as it encouraged owners to take training classes and made them accountable for their dogs actions.
What do you think? Do the new laws go far enough to tackle out of control dogs? Do you think irresponsible owners are likely to take note of these changes? Get involved with the debate on our Facebook Page!
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