New dog laws take effect but there are still some concerns...

New dog laws take effect but there are still some concerns...

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act has now come into effect, meaning that dog control laws have now been extended to cover private property.

The new legislation will also allow the police or designated council official to seize from private property dogs they believe to be a danger, and it will become an offence to injure an assistance dog, something the charities have been campaigning for, for some time, which is great news.

In addition, courts will now have to consider whether the owner of a dog accused of being a danger to the public is ‘fit and proper’ to be in charge of the animal. The dog’s temperament and past behaviour will also be taken into account.

The Act will increase the maximum prison sentence which can be imposed for aggravated section three cases, which affects dogs being out of control in public. Our recent post on the tragic death of Fergus highlighted the fact that all dogs (and humans) can be at risk, so hopefully this new law will mean owners of dangerous dogs will be more careful.

Dogs Trust said it believed the extension of current dog control laws to cover private property as well as public places gave more power to tackle irresponsible dog owners. But it was keen to express its concerns about the new legislation and potential shortcomings associated with preventing any form of dog attack as its chief executive, Clarissa Baldwin, explains:  "The first step needs to be that more work and attention be paid to prevent dog attacks on people and other animals,” she said. "Sadly, at the moment the new laws lack any measures to prevent such attacks and we’re yet to be convinced about the merit of the new legislation.
The Kennel Club called the Bill ‘a positive piece of legislation’ which would improve many of the ‘existing inadequacies of the current dog control laws’. They welcomed the fact that the Government would review the legislation after three years which is being done, DEFRA said, to ensure that the legislation fulfils its intended purpose. "The measures send a clear message to owners regarding their responsibilities in training and socialising, and rightly shifts legislative focus to the correct end of the lead – at dog owners themselves.”
The Blue Cross said time would tell how successful the Act is. "We have been campaigning for new laws to protect the public for more than 20 years and we welcome efforts to make owners more accountable for the behaviour of their dogs, both in public and on private property,” a spokesman said.
The RSPCA welcomed the move to introduce tougher sentences for those whose dogs attack other people and animals but also believes more preventive action is needed. It said it was not convinced that the Act would lead to improved dog control. "The extension of current dog control laws onto private property, as well as public places, gives more power to tackle irresponsible dog owners,” said head of public affairs David Bowles. "But more needs to be done to prevent dog attacks on people and other animals in the first place.
"Tougher sentences may well act as a deterrent, but reactive legislation on its own will not reduce dog bites and attacks. The new law lacks any measures to prevent dog attacks or intervene with owners at an early stage.
"We’re pleased to see that the Government has committed to reviewing the impact of the new legislation in three years’ time, and hope that this will lead to an improvement in dog control and reduction in dog bites, but we remain to be convinced.”
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Let's hope these new dog laws will reduce the number of attacks on dogs and people in public places.  Remember that the UK dog laws also mandate that all dogs must wear ID when in a public place, including their owner's name and address, or risk a fine of up to £2,000.  Choose from our great range at Pet-TagsUK.