21/08/2012

Stricter irresponsible dog guidelines "missing main point"

It has been claimed that newly-introduced stricter guidelines on dangerous dog offences are not enough to stop irresponsible dog ownership.

Newly-introduced stricter guidelines on dangerous dog offences are not enough to stop irresponsible dog ownership, it has been claimed.

The Kennel Club and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home believe the new guidelines miss the need for education of irresponsible  dog ownersThe new guidelines – introduced in England yesterday (August 20, 2012) by the Sentencing Council as an update to the Dangerous Dogs Act – now authorise courts to sentence irresponsible dog owners to up to 18 months in custody for allowing their dog to be dangerously out of control and causing injury. Until now, sentencing for such offences had been deemed "inconsistent".

However, organisations have warned that the tightening of guidelines do not do the job of stopping irresponsibility in the first place.

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: “These guidelines go a long way in sending out the message that irresponsible ownership will not be tolerated and will help the courts hold bad owners to account."

However, the Kennel Club still has concerns that these measures do not address the real issue, which is the urgent need for genuinely preventative measures.

“We welcome the fact that sentencing in this area will now be more consistent," added Mrs Kisko. "But what is really needed are ways of reducing dog bite incidents in the first place. The Kennel Club believes this must be done through education, more resources and power to the police and local authorities to deal with the first signs of irresponsible dog owners.”

Agreeing, Nigel Yeo, director of operations at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, said: “We urgently need to tackle the minority of irresponsible owners that put children, families, and other animals at risk by their inability, or in too many cases their unwillingness, to control their dog in public.

“Tougher sentencing guidelines are absolutely essential and Battersea hopes they will help us really clamp down on those who let their dog become dangerously out of control.

"However, the emphasis shouldn’t be on our court system to pick up the pieces of irresponsible dog ownership. We all need to work together to help ensure such dog attacks don’t happen in the first place. Prevention is far better than a cure.”

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