Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act have come into force, which means that dog owners can now face prosecution if their dog attacks a person in their home or on any private property, except if they attack a trespasser.
The maximum sentences for allowing a dog to attack someone have also been substantially increased.
The maximum prison sentences in England and Wales are now:
- Up to 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack.
- Up to five years, from two years, for injury.
- Up to three years if an assistance dog is attacked.
The changes also see new preventative powers for the police and local authorities so they can act early to stop dog attacks before they occur. These measures include steps the dog owner can take to address their own or their dog’s behaviour, for example:
- Attending dog training classes.
- Repairing fencing to their property to prevent the dog escaping.
- Requiring their dog to be muzzled in public.
Further measures to help tackle irresponsible dog ownership will come in to force in April 2016 when micro-chipping will be a legal requirement for all dogs in England, and from March 2015 in Wales.