Jail sentences of up to 18 months or 2 years in exceptional cases will be given to owners of dangerous dogs that have harmed people in a public place.
It’s expected that following the change in August 2012 there will be more prison sentences issued instead of the currently more common ‘community orders’ or cases being discharged without a conviction, and more bans will be put in place to stop irresponsible owners from keeping dogs.
Anne Arnold, of the Sentencing Council, said:
“This new sentencing guideline encourages courts to use their full powers when dealing with offenders so that they are jailed where appropriate.
“It also gives guidance to courts on making the best use of their powers so that people can be banned from keeping dogs, genuinely dangerous dogs can be put down and compensation can be paid to victims.”
Judgements will take in to account the seriousness of injuries during a dog attack and will pay particular attention to injuries to children. Also, any evidence of deliberate provocation from the dog’s owner will be seen as an aggravating factor by judges.
If injuries are considered minor and attempts were made by the owner to control the dog this may result in a more lenient sentence.
The Sentencing Council has also issued more detailed guidelines for judges sentencing those involved in the possession of prohibited dogs – the UK’s banned breeds are the Pitbull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro.
These guideline updates are welcomed by people in the UK dog rescue world, however it’s still felt by many (including some of the big name dog welfare charities) that more preventative measures should be put in to place, such as support in regards to dog training and dog breeding, which could reduce the number of dog attacks that occur.