Crackdown on dog attacks

Coun Paul Wharton with Fudge
Coun Paul Wharton with Fudge
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A councillor attacked by a dog in a public park has welcomed tougher sentences for owners announced today.

New guidelines for courts have raised the maximum punishment for an offence where someone is killed by a dog from two to 14 years and where someone is injured from two to five years.

South Ribble Coun Paul Wharton suffered a badly gashed hand when he tried to protect his pet pug Fudge from a vicious dog roaming loose in Farington Park near Leyland.

“The new sentences are good news as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “Hopefully they will encourage people to be more responsible dog owners and think twice before allowing their pets to get out of control.

“The man whose dog bit me was never caught. He just walked away and didn’t seem to care. But with the new guidelines he could have found himself facing a five-year prison sentence.”

The stiffer punishments have been introduced by the Sentencing Council after public consultation. They will be introduced in July and follow changes to dangerous dogs legislation in 2014.

They cover offences where a dog injures or kills a person, where it injures an assistance animal like a guide dog, or where someone owns a banned breed.

Coun Wharton said: “This is really welcome. People who have dogs should look after them and make sure they don’t attack other people, as happened with me.

“After this owner saw his dog attack me and could see I was bleeding quite badly he just left. He really wasn’t interested.

“Most owners are responsible people and this should send out a message to those who aren’t to either look after their dog or not have one. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but it’s necessary.”