Dangerous Dog Law Changes ‘A Missed Opportunity’

New Measures ‘A Step In The Right Direction’ But Lawyers Call For More Victim Support

12.05.2014

Legal experts who represent victims who have suffered serious physical and psychological injury as a result of dog attacks have described new measures to tackle dangerous dogs as a step forward, but warned that the changes were “a missed opportunity” to do more to help those affected.

New measures coming into force on Tuesday (May 13th) as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act will make several changes to current legislation, including closing the legal loophole which means dog owners cannot be prosecuted for attacks on private property.

It will also see an increase in the sentences for those convicted of such offences, offer police or appointed council officers the powers to seize an out of control dog and creates an offence for a dog attacking an assistance dog.

The changes are being introduced around two years before the microchipping of all dogs will also be made compulsory in England.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist injury lawyers represent people of all ages who have suffered serious physical and psychological trauma as a result of dog attacks, helping them to secure answers and justice regarding such incidents.

Commenting on the changes, Katrina Elsey, a legal specialist in dog bite claims, said: “Across the past few years it has seemed that barely a week has gone by without news of a serious dog attack taking place, with such incidents leading to both serious and fatal injuries.

“It is clear that steps need to be taken to address this issue and, as a result, these new measures which notably close a longstanding legal loophole are very welcome. However, we have long-held concerns regarding the Government’s approach to this issue, specifically that not enough has been done to ensure victims get the help they need following such attacks.

“Throughout this new legislation’s passage through Parliament, we have called on MPs to seriously examine the introduction of compulsory licensing and insurance for all dog owners.

“This reasonable step would not only ensure that the owners of dogs responsible for attacks can be quickly identified, but would also mean that victims who suffer injuries will be able to get financial redress which they can use to support vital rehabilitation and support services.

“Through our work, we have seen a number of cases in which victims have simply been unable to get such justice as a result of dog owners not having insurance or any financial assets. We know that victims of attacks affected by such issues feel that their plight has been ignored because of this.

“Ultimately, these changes are a step in the right direction but still feel like a missed opportunity. There is a victim affected by every attack and too many people’s lives have been touched by these issues.”