New so-called ‘Dog ASBOs’ have been introduced this month in an effort to clamp down on out of control dogs.
The announcement comes as a result of increased concern over the threats posed by dog attacks and only days after the inquest into Jade Anderson’s death.
The 14-year-old was attacked and killed by dogs at the home of a school friend in Atherton last year and coroner Alan Walsh criticised dangerous dog laws in his verdict.
But what penalties and fines could you now face?
MM have teamed up with Olliers Solicitors, a leading criminal law firm based in Manchester, to answer your questions.
Police have now been given more powers to demand owners deal with their pets to prevent them from attacking others or risk being fined.
The new rules came into force on Monday October 20, giving increased powers to local police forces and councils.
If a complaint is received about a dog either to the council or to police, the owner can be required to attend dog training classes, muzzle the animal in public or ensure it is kept on a lead in public, as well as enforcing a dog be microchipped or neutered.
Should these conditions not be adhered to then the owner could face a £100 on-the-spot fine, or even face criminal prosecution and a £20,000 fine.
As a last resort, the authorities will also be able to seize and impound the dog should the owner fail to take action.
Animal Welfare Minister, Lord de Mauley, said: “Dog attacks are devastating for victims and their families which is why we are taking tough action against those who allow them to happen.
“Police and local authorities will now have more powers to demand that irresponsible dog owners take steps to prevent attacks before they occur.
“This is on top of the tougher prison sentences we introduced earlier this year for owners who allow their dogs to attack people and assistance dogs.”
The introduction of ‘Dog ASBOs’ is the latest measure introduced to crack down on reckless owners.
Earlier this year, changes were also made to legislation to enable owners to be prosecuted for dog attacks on private property and maximum prison sentences were extended from two years to fourteen years, for fatal dog attacks.
Shaun Davis, of the Royal Mail, said: “Royal Mail campaigned for changes to the Dangerous Dog Act to ensure our postmen and women are protected when they enter private property, including a customer’s garden.
“We are pleased that these further changes will help police forces and local authorities use their new legal powers to prevent dog attacks.”
If you face prosecution in relation to a dangerous dog offence, we would strongly suggest that you seek legal advice.
Toby Wilbraham from Olliers said: “The Government has introduced fpur different procedures depending on the problem and situation, including Community Protection Notices, Injunctions, Criminal Behaviour Orders and Public Spaces Protection Orders.
“CPNs are the lowest level order and are aimed at tackling low level anti-social behaviour aimed at dogs and dog owners. They can be issued by Police Officers following complaints of dogs behaving badly.
“If a dog’s behaviour is judged to be having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, is persistent or continuing in nature and is unreasonable an order can be issued.
“The Police Officer is required to give a written warning to the dog owner before issuing a CPN, allowing an opportunity to rectify the behaviour. If the behaviour continues the CPN can be issued. The CPN can require an individual to do specified things (i.e neuter a dog, microchip a dog, erect higher fences around property etc) or prohibit someone from doing an activity (i.e. not to take a dog into a children’s play area).
“If a person breaches an order they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted for breach where the maximum fine for an individual is £2,500.
“The order can be appealed within 21 days of issue if the requirements are unreasonable or if the behaviour alleged did not occur.
“The other orders including Injunctions, CPOs and PSPOs can also be issued in certain circumstances but it is likely that the CPN will be used the most against dog owners as it easier to pursue and costs less. It will be interesting to see in due course how they will be issued and enforced.”
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Image courtesy of Mait Juriado2, with thanks