New Dangerous Dogs Legislation – Dog owners beware.
In a desperate attempt to curb the number of deaths by dangerous dogs, new legislation now provides that dog owners could receive up to a maximum of fourteen years imprisonment if a person dies as a result of dog inflicted injuries.
On the 13th March 2014 the Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act received royal assent. Section 106 of the Act amends section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, dealing with dogs of any breed dangerously out of control in a public place. Under the 1991 Act, a person could receive up to two years in custody upon conviction. The maximum possible sentence has now drastically increased to fourteen years if a person dies, and five years if a person is injured.
Only this month a 22 year old woman in Lincoln was severely injured after a dog attack, the latest incident in a string of highly publicised cases involving babies and toddlers mauled to death by dogs in England and Wales. The object of this recently imposed legislation is to warn dog owners, as well as those even temporarily in control of other people’s dogs, that the consequences of failing to control their animals will be serious. It remains to be seen whether or not the legislation will be effective. In terms of punishing offenders in line with their criminal culpability, however, it is questionable whether or not such sentences can be justified. It begs the question how far a person can realistically be in control of an animal’s behaviour, and how far they should be deemed responsible for their behaviour, particularly when there are no warning signs prior to an attack.