A DOG owner whose animal is involved in a fatal attack could now face 14 years in prison as tough new laws come into force this month.
Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act will also mean dog owners can now face prosecution if their dog attacks a person in their home or on any private property, except if they attack a trespasser.
The maximum sentences for allowing a dog to attack someone have also been substantially increased.
The maximum prison sentences in England and Wales are now: Up to 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack; up to five years, from two years, for injury and up to three years if an assistance dog is attacked.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said: “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences for victims and families and it is only right those responsible should face tough punishments.
“Irresponsible dog owners will not only face longer prison sentences, but will also be liable for prosecution regardless of where an attack takes place, even in their own home.
“This will give protection to those who provide vital services in the community – postal workers, nurses, utility workers - as well as people visiting family and friends.”
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “The coalition government is already making real progress in defending the public from out of control dogs and their irresponsible owners. These measures will protect individuals and also assistance dogs, which bring security, confidence and independence to their handlers.
“Later this year, new measures under the ASB, Crime and Policing Act will enable frontline professionals to crack down on anti-social dog owners who allow their animals to foul public places, menace members of the public and cause distress in the community.”
Further measures to help tackle irresponsible dog ownership come in to force in April 2016 when microchipping will be a legal requirement for all dogs in England.