Call for life sentences over dog attack deaths

Published: Tuesday 27th August 13

Wandsworth Council is urging the Government to give courts the power to impose life sentences in dangerous dog attack cases that result in a person’s death.

The local authority outlined its stance in response to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) consultation on whether the Government should amend the maximum sentence for aggravated offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Wandsworth believes longer sentences should be introduced where someone allows a dog to be dangerously out of control and the dog injures or kills a person or an assistance dog.

The maximum sentence is currently two years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both - but the council believes that if someone dies as a result of a dangerous dog attack the courts should be able to impose a life term.

In cases where the attack causes the death of an assistance dog, the council told Defra the maximum sentence should be 10 years in prison - the longest term put forward in the consultation options.

Wandsworth's community safety spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, said: "The council believes that these maximum sentences should be applied to send out a clear message that irresponsible dog ownership will simply not be tolerated.

"For the past five years we have been at the forefront of calls to introduce more effective rules on dog ownership in order to rid our communities of reckless owners and the pain and suffering they can cause to others.

"We have taken practical steps to promote responsible dog ownership, such as offering free microchipping to council tenants and leaseholders and providing the service at a reduced rate to other residents - but feel strongly that more serious deterrents are needed to help combat this issue."

Wandsworth currently has a record of more than 5,000 dogs living in the borough, with an average of three dogs per week being microchipped since 2009.

It has been a condition of council tenancies and leases since 2009 that all dogs must be microchipped and registered with the council. In February the Government announced it would bring in compulsory microchipping for all dogs from April 2016.

As well as microchipping, Wandsworth has been piloting a free dog neutering scheme in partnership with the local RSPCA branch, which aims to prevent unwanted litters of puppies from certain dog breeds.

Earlier this year the council welcomed newly-published legislation making it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in any public or private place. This closed a loophole which meant that dog owners whose animals attack people on private property were immune from prosecution.

Wandsworth has spearheaded the call for changes in legislation for the control of dangerous dogs. The council has been working alongside organisations like Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club and the RSPCA for many years to encourage responsible dog ownership.

For information on the work of the council's dog control officers, including how to get your dog microchipped, visit email or call (020) 8871 7606.

Meanwhile, concerns about the way a dog is being treated in Wandsworth can be reported in confidence to the council's Dog Control Service on (020) 8871 7606.



 View comments on this article

Comments on this news item have been closed.

If you wish to complain about a comment, contact us at

Recent comments

In the past my friend was attacked by two dangerous dogs as she was walking past Wandsworth Post Office - she had done nothing at all to upset them. The two young men who they belonged to just stood watching as the dogs turned her over and were biting at her arm and tearing at her thick coat. Thankfully two ladies ran across Garratt Lane shouting at the dogs, it was at this point that the owners called the dogs off and ran off into Sudbury House. The police said that there was nothing much they could do, despite CCTV coverage of the area. Something does need to be done to protect the public from dangerous dogs, and those owners who mistreat them by using them as 'weapons' on our streets.
J Collins

9 October 2013

I look forward to the Councillors stating that, given that car drivers killed 1,754 people, and seriously injured 23,039 in 2012, the maximum sentance for killing whilst in control of a tonne of metal should be increased to life too. Especially given that 2012 was the best year for road deaths since records have been kept. But no, who wants to advance "the war on the motorist"? We should recall that 61 of those killed by drivers last year where children. We must stop this murder of children (and adults).

29 August 2013

Its a brilliant idea to put microchipping to all dogs and it supposed to be compulsory. One day my neighbour dog nearly kill us when it was chasing us in the stairs with my daughter . And the neighbour was just standing their without tell it to stop. Councils need to do something before more people loosing their lives.
Rashidah Katongole

28 August 2013