New dangerous dogs legislation does not go far enough, say MPs
Thursday 16 May 2013
The Government's moves to tackle irresponsible dog ownership do not go far enough, a committee of MPs has warned.
Ministers have announced plans to close a loophole which allowed owners of dogs to escape prosecution if the animal attacked someone in a private property.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee backed that measure but said the plans fell short of creating a "comprehensive and effective regime for tackling the increasing problem of out-of-control dogs".
The committee's Tory chairwoman Anne McIntosh said: "Eight people, including six children, have died as a result of dog attacks since 2007; annual costs to the NHS of treating dog attack injuries are around £3 million; and some eight assistance dogs and hundreds of livestock are attacked each month."
The Government will legislate to strengthen the law in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, but the committee had examined earlier draft proposals and Ms McIntosh called for ministers to amend the Bill to address their concerns.
She said: "The draft Bill's proposals are welcome, but are limited in scope and far short of providing a comprehensive and effective regime for tackling the increasing problem of out-of-control dogs.
"Strong measures to prevent dog attacks are conspicuously absent - in particular targeted Dog Control Notices. The Government must bring together the disparate dog control and breeding legislation into a single, comprehensive Act."
But she said the cross-party committee backed the move to close the "gaping hole in the current law" making it impossible to bring criminal charges against an owner whose dog attacks someone in a private home.
"We welcome the proposal to enable action to be taken regardless of where a dog attack happens," she said.
"We also welcome the protection from prosecution given to someone whose dog attacks a trespasser in a home. This must apply whether or not the dog's owner or their family are present at the time of the attack. Householders need to know they can leave their dog at home without fear of committing an offence should their dog attack an intruder."
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