London councils call for tougher penalties on dangerous dog owners

08:42 04 April 2012

Met Police dog handlers removing a pit bull during a raid

Met Police dog handlers removing a pit bull during a raid

Councils in London are calling for owning a dangerous dog to be treated the same as carrying an offensive weapon.

London Councils, the body representing the capital’s 33 local authorities, is pressing the government to bring forward plans to help crack down on dangerous dogs.

The problem, in particular so-called ‘status dogs’ used by gangs as weapons, is growing.

The number of dogs seized by the Met Police rose from 193 in 2006 to 1,107 in 2010. The number destroyed went up from 27 to 563 in the same period.

Local authorities have powers to seize dogs they consider to be dangerously out of control, and work with the police and animal charities to enforce the law and to promote responsible dog ownership.

They are urging the government to bring forward promised proposals for possible changes to the law.

London Councils wants the government to increase the penalty for owning a banned type of dog, such as a pit bull terrier, to bring it more in line with carrying an offensive weapon.

It also wants laws extended include private land, to protect those who have to visit other people’s homes as part of their work.

And it wants enforcement of laws made faster, more streamlined and cheaper.

Councillor Claire Kober, London Councils’ executive member for crime and public protection, said: “Community safety is a top priority for London’s councils. People need to be reassured that local authorities have the powers and resources to deal with dangerous dogs.

“People were sickened by the recent dog attack on policemen in east London, and they are worried about dangerous, uncontrolled dogs and thugs using ‘status dogs’ as weapons.

“I urge ministers to publish plans as soon as possible and work with us to make sure we have effective measures to tackle this menace.”

Dog attacks on people cost the NHS £3.3million in 2009 in England and an estimated 6,000 postal workers are attacked by dogs each year.

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