Following on from an attack on my own Golden Labrador, Cholmeley, in Grovelands Park, I have been tackling the issue of dangerous dogs both locally and nationally by calling for better education on responsible dog ownership, with less emphasis on specific breeds.
I welcomed the news therefore that this Government has implemented measures which mean that owners of killer dogs will now be facing the same jail terms as dangerous drivers. The maximum prison term for aggravated dog attacks was previously two years. However, the Government wants dangerous dog owners to be given sentences which are more in line with those who are found guilty of death by dangerous driving. This would mean that owners of killer dogs now face up to 14 years in jail.
I believe it is important that the dog owners are held accountable for the actions of their dog, and punishment should be proportionate to the potential impact that a dog attack can have. This is especially true on attacks which happen to assistance dogs, such as guide dogs. The impact that this can have on the assisted person can be catastrophic, and I fully believe that this should be reflected and emphasised in sentencing.
I will continue to join the Government in looking at how we can toughen up laws to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice, regardless of where an attack takes place. We’re also giving local authorities and the police new powers to nip issues in the bud and take action before a dog attack takes place.