14 May, 2014
From 13 May 2014, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ('the Act') in order to deal with people who allow their dogs to attack people or assistance dogs.
The maximum prison sentences in England and Wales for allowing a dog to attack someone have now been substantially increased. The maximum prison sentences are now as follows:
The changes to the Act also mean that dog owners can face prosecution if their dog attacks someone on private property, including their own home. However, a dog owner would not be liable if their dog attacked a trespasser. The changes to the Act will give further protection to those who provide services within the community such as housing officers, postal workers, nurses and utility workers, as well as people visiting an area.
Additionally, the Act also introduces a specific offence to protect assistance dogs, with a maximum sentence of 3 years imprisonment for a guilty dog owner.
New preventative powers are being introduced for the police and local authorities, in order to allow them to act early in an attempt to prevent dog attacks. These preventative powers include sending owners to dog training classes, repairing fencing to prevent dogs from escaping and requiring dogs to be muzzled in public.
Further powers to help fight irresponsible dog owners are to come into force from April 2016, where microchipping will become a legal requirement for all dogs in England.