Cheshire East Council has vowed to enforce tough new laws to help prevent violent dog attacks.
It follows new legal powers being given to police forces and local authorities from today (Monday, October 20). Nationally, there are thousands of dog attacks every year.
For the first time, police and councils will be able to demand that owners take action to prevent a dog attack or risk a fine of up to £20,000.
If a complaint has been made about a dog to the Council or police, its owners could be ordered to do any or all of the following:
- Attend dog training classes;
- Muzzle the dog or require it to be on a lead in public;
- Require the dog to be microchipped and/or neutered;
- Repair fencing to prevent the dog leaving the property.
The Dealing with irresponsible dog ownership: practitioner’s manual, launched today, guides police forces and local authorities in the use of their new legal powers to prevent dog attacks.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for localism and enforcement, said: “As an enforcing Council, we will act swiftly and robustly to protect the public from dangerous dogs and bring offenders to book.
“Dog attacks are devastating for victims and their families, which is why we will act to take tough action against those who allow them to happen.
“Police and the Council now have more powers to demand that irresponsible dog owners take steps to prevent attacks before they happen.
“This is on top of the tougher prison sentences introduced by the Government earlier this year, for owners who allow their dogs to attack people or ‘assistance’ dogs.
“Prevention is always better than cure but that depends on information/intelligence from the public to alert us to any potential situation.”
The national policing lead for dangerous dogs Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “The practitioners manual gives police officers and other practitioners clear
guidance on how to best implement the legislative changes, especially the early preventative measures such as Community Protection Notices, to help prevent more-serious events occurring in the future.
“It also provides a platform to share good practice between police forces and partner agencies and it will form part of the ongoing training of Dog Legislation Officers across England and Wales.”
Earlier this year, legal changes were made to enable prosecution for a dog attack on private property and maximum prison sentences were extended to:
- 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack;
- Five years, from two years, for injury;
- Three years for an attack on an assistance dog.
The new powers for authorities have also received the support of Royal Mail.