News story

Owners of dogs who kill could face 14 years imprisonment

Punishments will reflect the devastating effect dog attacks can have.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Beware of the dog.

Read up-to-date information on dangerous dogs.

(This press release was published on 29 October 2013 and has not been updated since)

The government is proposing to increase the maximum penalties for owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control following a consultation this summer.

Current penalties stand at two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for aggravated offences but the changes announced today will see the penalties increased to;

  • 14 years’ imprisonment if a person dies as a result of a dog attack,
  • 5 years’ imprisonment if a person is injured by a dog attack, and
  • 3 years’ imprisonment if an assistance dog either dies or is injured by a dog attack

In coming to a decision on new maximum penalties for dog attacks, we have taken into account the responses to the consultation and the need for maximum penalties to be proportionate to the offence. We have also compared the current maximum penalty with the maximum penalties for other offences.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said:

It is right that the punishments of those who allow their dog to kill or injure people or assistance dogs are proportionate to the horrendous impact dog attacks can have.

We’re toughening up laws to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice, regardless of where an attack takes place. We’re also giving local authorities and the police new powers to nip issues in the bud and take action before a dog attack takes place.

The increase in maximum penalty for a dog attack on an assistance dog, such as a guide dog for the blind, reflects the devastating effect such an attack has on the assisted person. As now, each of these offences could also be punishable by an unlimited fine instead of or in addition to imprisonment. An amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act to effect these changes will be tabled for consideration during Lords Committee Stage of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

Further information

Published 29 October 2013