Battersea welcomes new dangerous dog sentencing guidelines that place greater emphasis on owner culpability

Leading animal welfare charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has today welcomed new sentencing guidelines that provide harsher penalties for those who deliberately train their dogs to be aggressive.

The new guidelines for judges aim to provide clear guidance on sentences for dangerous dog offences, covering offences where a dog injures or kills a person, where it injures an assistance dog or where someone possesses a banned breed of dog. 

As one of the few rescue centres in the UK that takes in any dog, regardless of its breed, temperament or medical condition, Battersea sees countless dogs that have been cruelly trained to be weapon dogs and hopes more flexible sentencing in our courts will ensure that irresponsible owners are held to account for their actions. 

Last year, five people were killed as a result of dog attacks, and the NHS reported 7,227 hospital admissions for dog related injuries, a 6.5% increase year on year, with children, the age group most vulnerable.

Claire Horton, Chief Executive at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said:

"Battersea recognise that the majority of dog owners are responsible but there are a minority that continues to put children, families, and other animals at risk. Sadly it only takes one bad owner to bring about tragic consequences. We must tackle the problem head on and clearer, more flexible sentencing to match the severity of the crime and culpability of the owner is just one part of the solution.

Battersea is pleased to see that the new sentencing guidelines look at the actions of the owner as well as the dog, putting the focus back at the right end of the lead and considering that whilst some owners may deliberately train their dogs to be dangerous, other offences may involve a momentary lapse of control over a dog by an otherwise responsible owner.  

However, harsher sentencing may still not provide a strong enough deterrent to those irresponsible owners who allow their dogs to become dangerously out of control. We'd like to see further steps to tackle the owners of dangerous dogs long before they ever reach the courts."

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For more information please contact 020 7627 9332 or email press@battersea.org.uk.

Notes to editors

  • The new sentencing guidelines will come into force in courts in England and Wales from July 2016.
  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home was one of the organisations who participated in the Sentencing Council’s public consultation. The consultation asked for views on aspects such as the factors that should be taken into account when assessing the seriousness of an offence, how the guideline should be structured and the sentence levels that should be set out.
  • Last year Battersea took in nearly 5000 dogs.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 30 days.
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or facebook.com/Battersea