Leading article: Time to teach dog owners new tricks

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The Independent Online

Ever since the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed in 1991, there have been complaints that it missed the point, that banning specific fighting breeds glossed over owners' responsibility for – and formative role in – their pets' behaviour.

The law has certainly not been effective at protecting the public from vicious dogs. Not only does the number of attacks continue to rise, reaching more than 1,000 last year, but the growing fashion for "weapon dogs" as status symbols, particularly in cities, can only make matters worse.

So proposed sentencing guidelines specifying up to two years in jail for the owners of dogs, of whatever breed, that cause harm when dangerously out of control are to be supported. Even more so as both the dogs' training, and the owners' efforts to control the animal, are to be taken into account. The only regret is that such clarifications have taken two decades to produce.

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