Anna Firth: We must make owners responsible for the actions of violent dogs

Anna Firth: We must make owners responsible for the actions of violent dogs

Anna Firth is the MP for Southend West

Irresponsible pet possession is a expanding and significant issue. Not only has there been a substantial maximize in modern a long time in both equally fatal and non-deadly pet assaults, but the quantity of out-of-regulate puppies attacking other pet dogs has also skyrocketed. In 2021 there have been some 11,559 puppy-on-puppy assaults across the British isles, up from just 1,700 in 2016.

That is an raise of almost 700 for each cent. The UK’s puppy population is believed to have risen by only 15 per cent in that time. This usually means that across the United kingdom there is a puppy assault just about every 45 minutes, and in nearly each and every situation these are triggered by owners not maintaining regulate of their animals.

This is accurately what took place to Michael, a single of my constituents, and Emelie, his wonderful Bichon Frise, known affectionately as Millie. In December 2021, while nonetheless on the direct, Emelie was brutally attacked by an unleashed pet in Chalkwell Park in Leigh-on-Sea. After the trauma of seeing Emelie getting “shaken like a rag-doll”, Michael was still left with no possibility but to have Emelie, bleeding and with serious open up accidents to her abdomen, to the nearest vet. Tragically, Emelie had to be place down.

Thanks to the reality that Michael was not beneath any worry of damage to himself, the canine was not deemed to be “dangerous” under the Perilous Canines Act. No prison charges could be introduced for what the Law enforcement merely identified as a “dog on dog” attack. No justice could be brought for Emelie.

Sadly, Michael’s tale is much from an isolated incident. Anecdotal proof suggest a lot of comparable, traumatic tales. A 2020 report by the Puppies Belief, reviews that 78 for every cent of all those surveyed claimed witnessing at least a person pet-on-dog incident in the past calendar year, and 16 for each cent claimed their personal puppy staying attacked by yet another puppy.

The emotional toll of these attacks on owners cannot be overstated. For many pet house owners, their canines are like associates of the relatives, often fulfilling a critical companionship part. To see a pet doggy remaining torn aside in front of their eyes is devasting and deeply harrowing.

Not only need to proprietors grapple with the discomfort and struggling of their beloved pet, but they should also shoulder the economical burden of costly vet expenditures. The trauma of a pet attack can be prolonged-lasting. The popular theme that runs by all these incidents is deep dissatisfaction with the police reaction to these attacks.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Through the pandemic, an approximated 12 for each cent of people in the United kingdom acquired a new pet, and 40 for every cent of these were being dogs. This represents millions far more dogs obtained in a extremely brief area of time, quite a few of whom have not been correctly socialised or trained.

Irresponsible ownership and deficiency of education is top to much more intense or violent conduct in pet dogs, in flip resulting in an increased range of dog-on-pet attacks. Even with the law on out-of-regulate canine currently being strengthened considerably in latest years, a pet dog operator is still not liable for any form of prosecution, unless the wounded pet is an assistance or a assistance canine, or except one more human is injured or attacked.

It is this gap in the current lawful framework that leaves pet house owners powerless and deeply discouraged, though also making it possible for risky pet dogs to continue resulting in harm with out consequence. Pet owners like Michael obtain it baffling that they by themselves are too distressed to wander in their nearby park any more, although the owner and their “dangerous” pet are free of charge to continue walking wherever they opt for with no controls set on the pet.

Group Safety Notices (CPNs), designed to take preventative motion from pet dog proprietors whose pet dogs are behaving aggressively, have not delivered the sought after outcomes. Not only are they almost never utilized, they are only not tailored to tackling pet regulate.

Hope lies in the growing recognition in the Uk of the trouble of pet-on-pet dog attacks and a will need for a lot more robust laws. Finn’s legislation, which came into staying in 2019 under this Government, criminalised attacks on serving law enforcement puppies (and horses). This adopted the situation of Finn, a police canine who was brutally attacked in the line of duty.

Building it a legal offence exactly where a dog kills or fatally injures another pet dog would prolong equivalent protections to all canine and ensure that all pet dog homeowners consider accountability for the effects of their pet’s behaviour. Other European international locations currently take this harder line. In Germany, for instance, an attacking dog’s operator can be fined, banned from possessing a pet in the long run, and even imprisoned. In the same way, in Cyprus attacking pet dogs are right away taken off and irresponsible proprietors deal with criminal proceedings.

Clearly, not all dog owners are irresponsible, and not all dogs are harmful. The wide majority of homeowners get their duties critically, and their pets are very well-behaved. However, we simply cannot ignore the actuality that there is a little minority of puppy house owners who are placing other pet pet dogs at chance.

For a country that prides alone on a love of animals,  the time has appear to do much more to maintain irresponsible dog owners to account and guarantee that accountable dog house owners do not have to endure like Michael – and Emelie – did.