A dog owner who breeds or trains an animal to attack people, and then whose dog kills someone, could be jailed for up to 14 years under new sentencing guidelines.
These guidelines demonstrate substantial increases to the maximum sentences, extend the law to cover offences on private property and introduce a new offence to cover attacks on assistance dogs such as guide dogs for the blind.
These offences could involve someone who has bred or trained a dog to be aggressive and uses the dog as a weapon or to intimidate people, and whose dog carries out a fatal attack.
The guidelines also cover incidents where the dog owner is much less culpable or less to blame.
This could include someone who has been a responsible owner and taken safety measures, but an unforeseen incident happens where his or dog escapes from the house and attacks someone in the street and, despite his or her efforts to restrain the dog, the victim dies or is seriously injured.
The law also introduced a new offence of a dog being dangerously out of control and killing or seriously injuring a guide dog or other assistance dog.
This also takes into account both the harm to the assistance dog and the potential impact on the assisted person of being without a trained dog for any period of time.
This applies to private and public property such as when a postal worker is attacked by a dog in a garden or when a guest is injured when visiting someone’s house.
Courts can also award compensation to victims or ban irresponsible owners who put the public at risk from keeping dogs.
These announcements are issued in the hope owners owning dangerous dogs will think much more carefully about control and breeding of such dogs.