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Government proposes clampdown on dangerous dogs

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The Government has launched a consultation on amending the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. It was introduced in response to a series of serious injuries and deaths following attacks by aggressive and uncontrolled dogs.

More than 100 people-a-week are admitted to hospital as a result of attacks by dogs.

Under the Act it is illegal to own any Specially Controlled Dogs without specific exemption from a court.

The dogs must be muzzled and kept on a leash in public, registered and insured, neutered, tattooed, and receive microchip implants.

The Act also bans the breeding, sale and exchange of these dogs, even if they are on the Index of Exempted Dogs.

Four types in particular were identified by the Act:

Under the proposed changes, the Government seeks to ban the above breeds from people's homes and to introduce compulsory third party insurance for dog owners to ensure attack victims are compensated.

If the proposed changes were to come in force it is hoped that postal workers, telecoms engineers and others whose work takes them onto private land would be protected.

Access Legal from Shoosmiths associate and personal injury specialist Sarah Cunliffe said: "Unknown to many, dog owners do often have insurance cover through their household insurance. However, for victims where there is no cover it can be difficult to get compensation.

"Each week more than 100 people are admitted to hospital after dog attacks, many of whom are children. I welcome these proposed changes, as it would enable those who are victims to secure compensation."

Cunliffe recently acted for a delivery driver for a national retailer who was injured in a dog attack whilst making a delivery.

After pulling up at the customer's home, the driver was advised by the homeowner not to leave his van until the dog had been put inside the house. The dog was moved and the homeowner signalled that it was safe for the driver to get out of his van and make the delivery.

Whilst walking up the garden path, however, the driver was attacked by the customer's dog and suffered leg wounds, which became infected.

Liability for the accident was admitted early on, but the homeowner did not have insurance that covered dog attacks, and had to pay the driver's damages and costs from her own assets.

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