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Calls to extend Dangerous Dogs Act

Dog Bite Claim Expert Welcomes Proposed Changes


Dog owners whose animals attack on private property should face prosecution, according to proposed amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Current legislation states that owners are only liable if their animals attack in a public place, meaning that the 6,000 attacks on postal workers every year go largely unpunished.

Labour's Angela Smith MP (Sheffield Hillsborough) told the House of Commons: "The Dogs Trust says this Bill places traditional emphasis on dog owners to take responsibility for their dogs' behaviour at all times.

"It is the action of the owner and what they encourage or allow their dogs to do that is important, rather than the breed or type of dog it is."

The amendments have been welcomed by the Royal Mail, the Communication Workers' Union, the RSPCA and the Kennel Club as well as 4,000 people who contacted Ms Smith in support of the proposals.

Ms Smith said that similar amendments had been introduced by the Scottish Parliament and that the Northern Ireland and Wales executives were also considering the changes.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Katrina Elsey from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "I would welcome the proposed changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act as I believe that dog owners whose animals attack on private property should face prosecution as the dog owner still has responsibility for the dog and should keep their animals under proper control when around visitors to their properties. I often see both adults and children attacked by dogs on private property and very often, there is nothing the criminal courts can do because the incident occurred whilst on private property. I believe that the legal emphasis should be placed upon the dog owner whether the attack took place in private or public premises as this should then encourage responsible dog ownership.

"The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 currently only applies to public places and makes it difficult to hold an owner accountable if their dog injures, or even kills, a person in a private place or garden. The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Bill would change that by making dog owners legally responsible for their animals in public and private places."

If you've been injured after being attacked by a dog, you may be able to make a dog bite claim.