Owners of killer dogs in England and Wales could face life in prison for deadly dog attacks. The change in British law is under study this month until September 1, according to multiple UK media sources including the BBC and the Independent.
The new law was proposed in the wake of a brutal March attack near Manchester, England. A 14-year-old girl was killed by four dogs while visiting the home of a friend.
Yet no one could be charged for her death.
The UK’s Dangerous Dog Act 1991 only covers dog attacks in public places or dog attacks while the animal is trespassing on someone else’s property.
Postal workers are particularly angry about this loophole. Almost 5,000 postal workers have been attacked a year — resulting in around 23,000 dog attacks over the last five years. But 70 percent of the attacks have occurred on the dog owner’s property, which means that no one is held responsible.
I wrote about the issue of people getting away with pit bull murder in the United States earlier this summer after a 29-year-old accused drug seller was charged with murder in Los Angeles County. The victim was jogging in her own neighborhood when his four dogs scalped her and tore off both arms.
She died on the way to the hospital.
The LA County case attracted national attention — and not because of the way the jogger died. That’s become all too common. There were multiple gruesome dog attacks this spring and summer, including attacks on children, women, and even an amputee in a wheelchair.
It was the arrest itself that sparked debate because the alleged drug seller was one of a handful of dog owners charged with a crime after his dogs killed.
Meanwhile, the issue of deadly dogs continues to grow both in America and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Simon Harding, a Middlesex University London sociologist, recently published a study that involved talking to actual owners of dangerous dogs in the UK. He came to the chilling conclusion that potentially deadly dogs are viewed as a business asset that can be bred for big money.
Harding said that there was a 550 percent increase in UK hospitals admissions caused by dogs in just 20 years.
Yet owners of killer dogs in England can often walk away if their animals kill or maim.
The new law will allow authorities to charge owners of killer dogs even if the dogs kill at home. The penalties for injuring or maiming a person or a guide dog will increase to a maximum of 10 years.
The penalties for allowing dogs to kill could increase to a life sentence.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to see how that can be unfair in the case of an illegal drug business owner setting deadly dogs loose in his neighborhood.
It’s equally hard to see how it would be unfair when deadly dogs are being used to bully a neighbor, as likely happened in the 2001 deadly dog attack on Diane Whipple in San Francisco. In that landmark case, owner Majorie Knoller was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the killing.
What are your thoughts about the proposal to increase the penalties to owners of killer dogs in England and Wales?
[pit bull photo by Janis Smits via Shutterstock]