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Tougher sentences for owners of dangerous dogs – is it the solution ?

  • August 20, 2012
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As a solicitor who deals with claims for the victims of dogbites I feel quite confident in saying that, in the case of status dogs  i.e. slavering hell hounds that are used to intimidate and frighten,  the level of injury is going to be higher than a nip from a poodle.

I would say at this point I never blame the dog for the attack and injury; the animal is what it is – the problem comes from poor ownership and management and so welcome the new tougher sentences that the Sentencing Council has implemented (August 2012).

The sentence for dangerous dog offences now has a jumping off point of six months for possession of a prohibited dog within the definition of the Dangerous Dogs Act with a consideration of 18 months for more serious and repeat offenders such as were the animal has been used as a weapon.

Trevor Cooper of the Dogs Trust has stated that the guideline ‘will encourage courts to focus on the key factors of culpability of the owner and the amount of harm to the victim’.

While this is helpful in addressing the issue of dangerous dogs it does nothing to assist the victims of such attacks if the owner is not insured and, again based upon my expertise and experience I would say that the more dangerous the dog the less likely it is to be insured.

Compulsory dog insurance with the fallback of a DIB (Dog Insureres Bureau) as insurers of last resort has been a rally cry of mine for a while now; will the recognition of the need for tougher sentences for those who breach the dangerous dog act be the first step towards adequate and proper compensation for all victims of dog attacks?

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