Government propose tougher sentencing for dog attacks
- The Westminster Government has announced its plans to increase the maximum prison sentences for dog attacks causing injury or death. While we welcome tougher sentencing for irresponsible owners and appreciate that it may act as a deterrent, we are adamant that there must be a suitable defence to protect regular dog owners who take all necessary precautions but whose dog injures someone accidentally, for example, by jumping up and scratching a person. Soon this will become law and time is running out. Urge the Lords to amend the Bill and protect responsible owners!
Campaign for a fair deal for dogs (and their owners!)
The UK Government is in the process of introducing a new law for England and Wales which will give enforcers new powers to deal with issues such as the use of dogs to threaten, intimidate or attack other people/animals or dogs whose behaviour poses a risk to human safety.
We too are concerned with these issues especially as in some cases these dogs the victims of neglect or violence themselves. However, the RSPCA is worried that what is being proposed by the Government will not be adequate for tackling these issues and could have a serious impact on dog welfare and dog ownership in general.
After 22 years of failing dog laws, with the RSPCA and other animal rescue organisations having to pick up the pieces, we’re desperate to see meaningful change.
What we’d like to see:
- Focus on prevention - We do not believe the measures in the bill provide genuine prevention and so we want to see the introduction of bespoke ‘dog control notices’. These could prevent suffering to animals, as well as protect people where there are concerns over owners failing to control their dogs.
- Protection of other animals - The bill includes tougher penalties for owners who allow or even encourage attacks on assistance dogs. We’d like to see protection afforded to all ‘protected’ animals , i.e. dogs, cats, horses and other livestock etc.
- Protection for dog owners - We welcome in principle the extension of the law to cover attacks on private property but we are concerned how this might impact on responsible dog owners and dog welfare. There must be greater protection for responsible dog owners where genuine accidents occur in the home.
- Abolition of 'breed specific legislation' (BSL) - In drafting this bill, the Government had the opportunity to amend the Dangerous Dogs Act and abolish BSL, however it remains. BSL punishes certain types of dogs for the way they look and it should be phased-out. In the interim, we urge the Government to allow for friendly, well-socialised dogs seized under the Act to be able to be re-homed rather than having to be destroyed.
- Reduction in welfare impacts on kennelled dogs - Some dogs spend months or even years in kennels while their fate is being decided through the courts. Seized dogs who are not suitable for rehoming should not have to endure long periods in kennels, kept alive as 'evidence' only to be destroyed upon the conclusion of a court case.
You can read more about the RSPCA's concerns on the proposed changes to dog law here.
How can I help?
We have seen too many dogs suffer at the hands of failing dog control laws and it’s time for meaningful change.
Help us campaign for a fair deal for dogs...and their owners!