Owners of dangerous dogs who kill could face life in prison

The issue regarding dangerous dogs has been both controversial and deeply divisive within society. The disturbing fact remains that 16 people have been killed by dangerous dogs since 2005. For those owners responsible, the maximum sentence under the current law is just two years. In addition to this, the law covers only attacks by dogs in public places and private areas which do not include the owners home. The disturbing truth is that this existing law has created a loophole which has been exploited by owners to avoid prosecution.

The death of Jade Anderson, who was savagely attacked and killed by four dogs, is evidence of this. Justice was denied for Jade and her family because the attack took place in a home and not a public place. New proposals to change the law is welcoming but it is worrying that it has taken the government over 20 years to now realise that change is needed to prevent more deaths like that of Jade.

When it comes to the serious issue of killer dogs, it is of fundamental importance to distinguish between dogs which are family pets and dogs raised with the objective of attacking people. A real problem within society presents itself when family dogs, thought to be safe around children kill as highlighted recently by the tragic death of a four year old girl in Leicestershire.

Should owners of family pets be sent to prison if their dog kills? What I believe this underlines is the need to achieve consistency and fairness in sentencing to reflect the offence. Given the fact that causing death by careless driving is five years, it is important to understand that life imprisonment is a severe sanction and must only be given in both exceptional and justifiable circumstances.

By Aran Walia