Owners of dogs who kill could face 14 years imprisonment

The government is proposing to increase the maximum penalties for owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control following a consultation this summer.

Current penalties stand at two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for aggravated offences.

However, under changes announced today penalties will be increased to:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment if a person dies as a result of a dog attack,
  • 5 years’ imprisonment if a person is injured by a dog attack, and
  • 3 years’ imprisonment if an assistance dog either dies or is injured by a dog attack.

In coming to a decision on new maximum penalties for dog attacks, the government has taken into account the responses to an earlier consultation and the need for maximum penalties to be proportionate to the offence.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said:

It is right that the punishments of those who allow their dog to kill or injure people or assistance dogs are proportionate to the horrendous impact dog attacks can have.

We’re toughening up laws to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice, regardless of where an attack takes place. We’re also giving local authorities and the police new powers to nip issues in the bud and take action before a dog attack takes place.

The increase in maximum penalty for a dog attack on an assistance dog, such as a guide dog for the blind, reflects the devastating effect such an attack has on the assisted person. As now, each of these offences could also be punishable by an unlimited fine instead of or in addition to imprisonment. An amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act to effect these changes will be tabled for consideration during Lords Committee Stage of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

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