Dangerous Dogs Act: Dog welfare group warns owners that dog aggression in the home could now lead to prosecution

National Animal Welfare Trust says new guidelines will mean owners will need to be a lot more vigilant

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The Independent Online

Dog owners need to ensure that they have control over their pets at home as well as in public if they want to avoid prosecution, according to the animal welfare group the National Animal Welfare Trust.

The organisation has said that recent changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act Law mean that owners need to ensure that their dogs do not bite or display threatening behaviour towards people while in the home.

The warning comes after an amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act was brought in last week.

Before the amendment, dog owners could face criminal prosecution if their dog had displayed aggressive or threatening behaviour towards a person in a public place.

However, this has now been extended to private property, with dog owners in facing criminal prosecution even if their dogs commit the offences in their own home.

Every year 6000 people are injured through dog attacks with a large percentage occurring on private property.

Read more: Dog bite admissions to hospital three times higher in deprived areas

Of the 20 dog attack since 2005; 16 took place on private property.

Clare Williams CEO for the National Animal Welfare Trust said that owners now have to be a lot more careful about the way their animals act and consider how other people might react to their dog’s behaviour.

The law is also intended to protect postal workers too.

For years the Communication Workers Union has called for stricter laws against dogs to ensure greater protection for their members.

It is hoped the new law will lead to a reduction in the number of  attacks on postal workers, which currently stands at 2,100 a year.

Claire Williams said: “With the new laws, people need to be a lot more aware of how their dogs act around the front door.

"If your dog jumps up at people in a way that you feel is friendly, other people may not consider that to be friendly and that would need to be dealt with.”

The new law has been welcomed by other dog welfare groups.

Caroline Kisko, of The Kennel Club, said the amendment was designed to encourage better control of dogs, rather than prosecuting responsible owners whose pets may occasionally jump up.

The decision to extend prosecution to incidents that occur on private property coincides with other tougher dog laws brought in as part of the amended Dangerous Dogs Act.

Under the new law, owners whose dogs attack a person could face five years in jail - up from the previous maximum of two.

Owners whose dog kills someone could now go to prison for up to 14 years.