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Dog law change

The Government is bringing in compulsory microchipping for all dogs from April 2016, with laws on dog attacks extended to cover private property.

All dogs in England will need to be microchipped to help tackle the growing problem of strays roaming the streets, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announced. He also said that the police are being given new powers to tackle dangerous dogs and keep the public safe.

The laws on dog attacks will be extended to cover private property, closing a loophole which has meant that dog owners whose animals have attacked people on private property are immune from prosecution.

Eight children and six adults have been killed in dog attacks since 2005, with many of these attacks taking place in the home. In the last year alone, more than 3,000 postal workers reported being attacked by dangerously out of control dogs, and 70 per cent of these attacks happened on private property. Householders will be protected from prosecution if their dog attacks a burglar or trespasser on their land.

Mr Paterson added: “Most people take proper care of their dogs but there are a small minority of people who behave irresponsibly, allowing their dogs to threaten and attack people.

“People like health and postal workers, who have to go on private property just to do their jobs, deserve protection under the law. By giving the police extra powers to clamp down on law-breakers, those responsible for the worst offences will be held to account regardless of where the attack takes place.”

Government measures will also allow the police, when dealing with any dogs which are subject to court proceedings under the Dangerous Dogs Act, to decide whether a suspected prohibited dog needs to be kept apart from their owners until the outcome of court proceedings. Previously all such dogs had to be kennelled until after proceedings had concluded, even if they posed no risk to the public.

Each year more than 100,000 dogs are dumped or lost at a cost of £57m to the taxpayer and welfare charities.

The Government is bringing in compulsory microchipping for all dogs from April 6, 2016 to help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership.

Support from Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, means a free microchip will be available for all unchipped dogs in England.

Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, said: “It’s a shame that in a nation of dog lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down. I am determined to put an end to this and ease the pressure on charities and councils to find new homes for these dogs.

“Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners. It makes it easier to get their pet back if it strays and easier to trace if it’s stolen. The generous support of Dogs Trust will mean that this valuable service can be offered for free to pet owners across the country.”

In the UK are around eight million pet dogs. Nearly 60 per cent are already chipped.

Owners will be able to get their dog microchipped for free at any of the 18 Dogs Trust centres across the UK, and free microchips will be offered by Dogs Trust to local authorities, housing associations and veterinary surgeries.

ACPO lead for dangerous dogs, Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, said: “It is in society’s interest to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs and irresponsible ownership and the Government’s announcement will greatly improve this area and enhance public safety.
“This is not only due to the serious physical harm and intimidation that occurs but also the effect it has on our communities.

“The extension of the law to cover dog attacks on private property is essential to protect members of the public who have legitimate access to premises such as postal workers, nurses, midwives and others. It also offers greater protection to the wider public, including children and other vulnerable members of our communities.

“The police service spends several million pounds on long term kennelling, which is a significant drain on police resources and can have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of the animal. Under the new measures, police will now be able to decide if the retention of a dog is necessary whilst court proceedings are being conducted under the Dangerous Dogs Act. This decision will be made by individual police forces who will take into consideration the requirement to maintain public safety, secure and preserve evidence, and act in the interests of the animal and its owner.

“Compulsory microchipping will assist in tackling the environmental and welfare issues of stray dogs, by assisting local authorities and the charitable sector to re-unite dogs with their owners expeditiously when lost or stolen.

“We note the Welsh Government is in the consultation phase on its dog control proposals and we are also in discussion with the Ministers’ officials.”


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