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Police in Widnes and Runcorn are warning irresponsible dog owners to adhere to the law or face a potential criminal conviction.
In Halton, over the past six months, there have been 76 incidents involving dogs concerning the public. Of these, 15 were actual dog bites where people were injured.
There were also 10 dog on dog attacks reported to police, and the rest of the calls related to scared residents and those concerned about mistreatment.
While some incidents can be accidental, the potential for behavioural problems in dogs increases if they haven’t been trained or have been mistreated or neglected.
Owners of illegal breeds under UK law in particular can expect to be prosecuted and convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Sgt Phil Berry, said:
“While most dog owners are responsible and care for their pets, often seeing them as cherished members of the family, there are some who aren’t. That may be why we’re seeing an increase in dogs being out of control and harming people and other dogs.
“Dogs are not an accessory or a status symbol to show how ‘hard’ you are. They are animals that need to be treated with care. Socialisation and training is important to make sure they are balanced and happy individuals."
Due to the emerging issue of out of control dogs in the community, police in Halton are reminding residents that it is a criminal offence under the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ either in a public place or on in the home.
A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone, or a dog that a person has grounds to reasonably believe that it may injure somebody.
Something as simple as a dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could result in an investigation, so it important to ensure the owner’s dog is always under control.
If a dog injures somebody, it may be seized and if convicted the owner could face a lengthy prison sentence or a fine, or both. The dog could also be euthanised.
Under the same law it is also a criminal offence if your dog attacks an assistance dog.
Sgt Berry said:
“If a dog you own has behaviour that concerns you or you need advice on training, there are plenty of dog trainers, and charities such as the RSPCA, to support you and your dog.
“And if you believe an animal is being mistreated, you can contact the RSPCA via their website to report your concerns.”