Changes came into force on 13th May 2014 which means that there will be tougher sentences imposed in respect of dog owners whose pet attack other people or assistance dogs.
There have been changes made to the Dangerous Dog Act, which will see dog owners facing prosecution if their dog attacks a person in their home or on any private land, unless they are a trespasser.
The maximum sentences for allowing a dog to attack someone have also been substantially increased. In England and Wales these are now:
Up to 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack.
Up to 5 years, from 2 years, for injury.
Up to 3 years if an assistance dog is attacked.
It is clear that the aim of the updated legislation is to provide protection to those who provide vital services in the community, such as nurses, utility workers, postal workers and people visiting family and friends.
This is the first time that legislation will cover assistance dogs from attacks.
The changes will also see new preventative powers being given to Local authorities and the police to intervene before the attack occurs. These include measures which the owner can implement to address their dog’s behaviour
• Requiring a muzzle in public
• Attending dog-training classes.
• Requiring fencing to their property to prevent the dog escaping.
It seems that plans to overhaul the legislation will not stop there as there are plans for further measures to help tackle irresponsible dog ownership, these will come into force in April 2016 when it will become a requirement for all dogs in England and in Wales from March 2015.
We have extensive experience of defending allegations made against dog owners in what could prove to be very serious circumstances for the dog owner but also for the future of the dog. This can be a very distressing time for all concerned and so it is very important for you to get expert advice at the time, to help you make, what can often be very difficult decisions. This includes initial and ongoing advice and also representation at a police station, if you are invited in to be questioned by the police or are arrested and also representation in court.