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The Season Of Animal Attacks And Changes To Dangerous Dogs Act!

17th December 2013
This week’s news from Canada of a snake, which strangled two boys, aged 5 and 7 who were sleeping at a friend's apartment above a pet shop, is not the only tragic but unusual ‘animal attack’ story to make the headlines.

Closer to home, it’s also been reported that a 63 year old man was attacked and fatally wounded by a bull while walking with his wife on a public right of way through a Nottinghamshire farm near the Leicestershire border.

Injury and health risks can also be posed by many familiar, domesticated creatures, such as cats, snakes, lizards, horses and birds as well as other types of farmyard animals, including bulls, goats and geese.

While unusual the issue of attacks by animals, mostly of the domesticated variety, tends to focus on canines and the subsequent personal injury claims made for horrific and sometimes fatal wounding.

Government consultation

Currently, a government consultation on the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, which runs until 1st September, proposes to increase the present maximum jail term for owners of dogs that kill people up to life imprisonment.

The consultation, run by DEFRA online, asks the question whether the maximum sentence should be seven years, 10 years, 14 years or life imprisonment.

Under the present law, failure to keep a dog under control can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 and/or a prison sentence of  up to six months, with the additional likelihood of being prohibited from owning a dog in the future.

However, if an owner fails to prevent a dog from causing human injury, a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine can be imposed and a maximum of five years if a dog is deliberately used to inflict ‘malicious wounding’ and injury.

NHS Reports

More than 15 people have been killed by dangerous dogs since 2005 and over the last four years, the NHS have reported a 40 per cent increase to nearly four thousand incidents resulting in people being “treated for dog bites and other injuries from dog attacks”.

The most recent NHS figures show a further 5.2 per cent rise as 6,447 people were admitted to hospital for dog bites between 2011/12, accounting for more than 70 per cent of all animal attacks. As in previous years, the North East of England recorded the highest incidence of dog bite admissions followed by Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West.