Owners who have dogs that kill could face life in prison
Under new proposals for England and Wales the owners of dogs that attack and kill someone could range from five years to life.
The new proposals have been rushed through after in March, 2013 14 year old Jade Anderson was viciously killed in an attack by four dogs while she was at a friend’s house in Wigan. Due to Jade being in private property, the owner of the dogs was completely immune from prosecution. The police say that there is no evidence for a crime that has been committed under current laws.
At the moment the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 will only cover attacks that have been caused by dogs in public places or private areas where a dog is prohibited from such as a neighbours garden.
Since 2005 over sixteen people have been killed by dogs in the UK.
There will not be a government consultation on the new proposals and this will run until the 1st of September.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said: "Dog attacks are terrifying and we need harsh penalties to punish those who allow their dog to injure people while out of control.
"We're already toughening up laws to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice, regardless of where a dog attack takes place.
"It's crucial that the laws we have in place act as a deterrent to stop such horrific incidents."
The RSPCA sees things differently however and says more things should be done in the first place like the council adding restraining orders and training orders.
Unions that represent postal workers, and delivery staff welcome tougher rules as these are regular victims of attacks by dogs. Dave Joyce who heads the Communication Workers uninion noted that 23,000 postmen and women have been attacked by dogs in the past 5 years. He said that "This consultation is very welcome and hopefully indicates the government is serious about tackling the problem of irresponsible dog ownership.
"We want to see tougher sentencing, better enforcement and greater consistency in sentencing.
"At the moment people are being handed vastly different sentences for very similar crimes, with one person receiving a suspended prison sentence while another walks away with just a £100 fine.
Since 2007 dog bite hospital admissions have gradually grown and things are a real concern.
Other penalties include a jail term for a dog that injuries a person or kills an assistance dog like a guide dog. This carries up to three to 10 years in jail.
Richard Leaman who is Guide Dogs chief executive said that
"It's almost impossible to imagine the devastating effect an attack on a guide dog can have on someone with sight loss.
"The punishment for irresponsible dog owners should reflect the immense turmoil and anguish these attacks cause our guide dog owners, and all assistance dog owners. We are pleased the government is asking for views on this issue."
Photo: State Farm