New dangerous dogs laws do not go far enough, say MPs

 
A muzzled and leashed pitbull terrier Campaigners say existing laws on dangerous dogs are not working properly

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Tougher laws to tackle the threat of dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners do not go far enough, MPs have said.

Plans to make it a crime in England and Wales to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control on private property were welcomed by the environment committee.

But it criticised a lack of action to address threatening behaviour at an early stage and reduce risk of attacks.

The government said anti-social behaviour reforms would give police more powers to deal with irresponsible dog owners.

More than 200,000 people a year are estimated to be bitten by dogs in England, based on research for the British Medical Journal.

Campaigners say legislation dating back to 1991 has been ineffective in dealing with aggressive animals.

The law covers only attacks by dogs in public places and private areas where animals are prohibited from being, such as a neighbour's garden.

Ministers want to extend the scope of the law to enable a prosecution to be brought against anyone whose dog injures someone or acts aggressively in a private place where they are permitted to be, such as a home.

'Reasonable precautions'

There have been eight fatal attacks in private residences since 2007, most recently in March, when teenager Jade Anderson was mauled to death in Wigan when she visited a friend's house.

Police have no plans to prosecute anyone in relation to her death, saying there is no evidence a crime has been committed and that they are bound by the law.

Start Quote

Our anti-social behaviour reforms will give the police and local agencies more effective powers to deal with owners who fail to take responsibility for their dogs”

End Quote Government spokesman

The cross-party committee said existing laws had "comprehensively failed" to deal with the threat from dangerous dogs and welcomed the proposed extension - which could also see maximum penalties increased from a six-month jail sentence to two years.

The government's plans would also criminalise attacks on assistance dogs while exempting homeowners from prosecution in the event of an attack on a trespasser.

However, the MPs questioned whether they would apply in cases where someone had trespassed with "innocent intentions" - such as a child recovering a ball from a neighbour's garden.

The committee also expressed concerns about how incidents on surrounding land, such as gardens or paths, and outside dwellings such as sheds would be treated in law.

It said the courts should be allowed to take into account the actions of responsible homeowners who took "reasonable precautions" to stop their animals from causing harm, such as putting up warnings outside properties and securing fences, as opposed to those behaving "negligently".

'Tailored powers'

The committee also said homeowners "needed assurance" that they would be protected in the event of attacks on trespassers when they were not at home.

It was the police's view, the MPs said, that the public felt a dog left on its own had a role in protecting the property and this should form the basis of a legal defence when attacks occurred during owners' absence.

On the issue of preventing future attacks, the committee said there was a lack of action and the proposals would actually limit council powers to stop animals from entering certain areas.

It is calling on ministers to reconsider the case for Dog Control Notices - introduced in Scotland in 2011 - which give local authorities powers to tackle all aspects of dog-related crime such as illegal breeding and the ownership and training of so-called "status dogs".

'Hasty legislation'

The committee argues that ministers must "provide law enforcers with tailored powers to tackle aggressive dogs before they injure people and other animals".

Other recommendations include licensing for dog breeders producing a minimum of two litters - as opposed to five now - and a code of practice covering online sales of animals.

The British Veterinary Association echoed the MPs' concerns that the proposals "did not go far enough".

"Instead of making more mistakes with hastily made legislation we are asking the government to think again and reconsider introducing Dog Control Notices," its president Peter Jones said.

And Steve Goody, of pet charity the Blue Cross said that without Dog Control Notices "enforcement officers will remain powerless to tackle irresponsible owners and antisocial behaviour with dogs before attacks take place".

A government spokesman said it was taking "urgent action" to protect the public from dangerous dogs.

"We are changing the law so that owners can be prosecuted for dog attacks on private property and our anti-social behaviour reforms will give the police and local agencies more effective powers to deal with owners who fail to take responsibility for their dogs."

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 599.

    598. Silvie Appleton
    JUST NOW
    596. paulmerhaba
    So no more dogs then, and we can rename the isle of dogs the isle of humans to prove how rufty tufty we are.
    //////////
    Yep, the Isle of Man and Woman.
    --
    For gods sake what about the children. lol
    Got give girly her late night walk, like it when its dark, i get to perfect my, get poo bag on top of a lampost, technique. skeep tight.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 598.

    596. paulmerhaba
    So no more dogs then, and we can rename the isle of dogs the isle of humans to prove how rufty tufty we are.
    //////////
    Yep, the Isle of Man and Woman.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 597.

    UK Population is 63.2m people
    who own 3.3m dogs
    which attack 210.000 people,
    which puts 6,100 victims into Hospital.
    which cost US, as Taxpayers.
    a staggering ...£3.3m
    EACH YEAR
    .

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 596.

    595. Silvie Appleton
    2 MINUTES AGO
    594. paulmerhaba
    How do you ban all dogs? apart from the useful ones of course, is there a special doggie island somewhere.
    /////////
    The Isle of Dogs is out of the question. Anyway, stopping the breeding would be a start.
    --
    So no more dogs then, and we can rename the isle of dogs the isle of humans to prove how rufty tufty we are.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 595.

    594. paulmerhaba
    How do you ban all dogs? apart from the useful ones of course, is there a special doggie island somewhere.
    /////////
    The Isle of Dogs is out of the question. Anyway, stopping the breeding would be a start.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 594.

    593. Silvie Appleton
    JUST NOW
    584. paulmerhaba
    would love to hear your thoughts about how that should be achieved?
    //////
    See 589.
    --
    How do you ban all dogs? apart from the useful ones of course, is there a special doggie island somewhere.
    Or are you suggesting another type of ban altogether?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 593.

    584. paulmerhaba
    would love to hear your thoughts about how that should be achieved?
    //////
    See 589.

    591. paulmerhaba
    Would you advocate a ban on all children unless they went into public service.

    /////////

    I do find your funny posts more entertaining than your attempts at serious ones.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 592.

    588. toorie

    Simple. Change the Law in England and Wales to come into line in Scotland where penalties are much more severe.
    ---
    Deed not Breed? No excuses in court? How will the poor lawyers make any money from drawn out cases arguing whether a breed is dangerous or not?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 591.

    589. Silvie Appleton
    Hence a ban for all dogs. Except guide/sniffer/seizure alert dogs etc. No chicken, no egg, no dog.
    --
    Would you advocate a ban on all children unless they went into public service.

    586. jgm2
    Mass compulsory steralization of dogs. There'd be hardly any left in under a decade.
    -
    I will raise you steralization of all jgm2's

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 590.

    @587. fakename. Same where I am. I live 5 min walk from beach, but only go during summer hols, when dog not on beach for 6 weeks. Rest of year there are packs of 20 or more dogs charging around while owners sit having tea and nag. My children, and many others, get no real benefit from living in this location anymore. The dog owners have taken over, and ruined the area.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 589.

    585. Charlie Farley
    Acting on the evidence, how do you know a dog is dangerous unless its actions indicate it is aggressive/antisocial? Seems like your proposing a bit of a chicken and egg argument to me.
    /////////////////
    Hence a ban for all dogs. Except guide/sniffer/seizure alert dogs etc. No chicken, no egg, no dog.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 588.

    Simple. Change the Law in England and Wales to come into line in Scotland where penalties are much more severe
    Under new Scottish Law................
    ............................"it's the Deed, not the Breed".......................
    This works really well in Scotland where dog attacks have decreased because there's no excuses in Court by dog owners.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 587.

    Our local park used to be full of children playing at weekends and after school as well as joggers and walkers but not anymore. Dog owners now use it as a toilet for their pets. Each year there seems to be bigger and bigger dogs running about the park off lead and they appear not to be trained as they charge at anyone walking or jogging. Police will not do anything unless there is an incident.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 586.

    584 paul

    'would love to hear your thoughts about how that should be achieved'

    Mass compulsory steralization of dogs. There'd be hardly any left in under a decade.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 585.

    583. Silvie Appleton
    That's fighting the symptoms. There shouldn't be any "actions of their animals" to be brought to account for. How you suggest to achieve that?
    --
    Acting on the evidence, how do you know a dog is dangerous unless its actions indicate it is aggressive/antisocial? Seems like your proposing a bit of a chicken and egg argument to me.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 584.

    583. Silvie Appleton
    7 MINUTES AGO
    581. Gabriel Oaks
    Irresponsible dog owners need to be brought to account for the actions of their animals.
    //////
    That's fighting the symptoms. There shouldn't be any "actions of their animals" to be brought to account for. How you suggest to achieve that?
    -
    would love to hear your thoughts about how that should be achieved?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 583.

    581. Gabriel Oaks
    Irresponsible dog owners need to be brought to account for the actions of their animals.
    //////
    That's fighting the symptoms. There shouldn't be any "actions of their animals" to be brought to account for. How you suggest to achieve that?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 582.

    581. Gabriel Oaks

    Irresponsible dog owners need to be brought to account for the actions of their animals.

    Why is that so difficult to introduce into law?
    --
    It already is, the difficulty is in enforcement. If the Police and local authorities can't be bothered to tackle the problem these bozos will continue to parade round with their status dogs.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 581.

    Irresponsible dog owners need to be brought to account for the actions of their animals.

    Why is that so difficult to introduce into law?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 580.

    Why do so many members of the underclass have Staffordshire bull terriers some of which seem to be fed on steriods?
    Is it an attempt to show that although they may be poorly educated and unemployable they are still tough?
    Perhaps more consideration should be given to changing culture and aspiration.
    Alan

 

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