Tory MP in bid to make fatal dog-on-dog attacks specific criminal offence

Tory MP in bid to make dog-on-dog attacks specific criminal offence

Fatal dog-on-dog attacks would be made a specific criminal offence under a new law being proposed by a Tory MP.

Southend West MP Anna Firth, who is Sir David Amess’s successor, is introducing a private members’ bill in a bid to amend the Animal Welfare Act.

Dog-on-dog attacks are currently only a specific criminal offence if the dog attacked is an assistance or service dog, but not pets.

Ms Firth’s bill is called Emilie’s Law after her constituent Michael Joannou’s dog who was mauled to death by another dog in an Essex park in 2021.

The former barrister, who is a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF), said: “It is frankly scandalous that irresponsible dog owners are currently able to shirk all responsibility when their dog fatally attacks another, creating untold distress and harm to the deceased dog’s owner and wider family.

“Of course, not all dogs are dangerous and not all dog owners are irresponsible, but it is crucial we have accountability under the law so that in instances, such as Michael’s, justice can be pursued.”

It comes as dog-on-dog attacks in the UK have risen by 700 percent from 1,700 to 11,559 between 2016 and 2021, according to Freedom of Information data from 28 police forces.

Ms Firth’s bill, which is due to have its first reading in the Commons on May 23, is being backed by the CAWF and Conservative MPs Mark Francois and Henry Smith.

Former minister Mr Francois said: “I am pleased to give my wholehearted support to this Bill led by Anna Firth who is heroically continuing the legacy of Sir David Amess and his unwavering commitment to advancing animal welfare.

“Dogs are man’s best friend, yet when they are killed by another dog there is currently no recourse for owners under the law.”

Crawley MP Mr Smith said: “Emilie’s Law is about justice for the many dogs who lose their lives each year at the hands of irresponsible dog owners with no legal consequence.

“Dog attacks are on the rise and clearly something must be done to ensure owners are held accountable when their dog fatally attacks another.”

Lorraine Platt, co-founder of the CAWF, added: “Pet dogs provide loving companionship for millions across the UK, yet there is no law to enforce justice when a dog is fatally attacked by another.

“We hope Emilie’s Law will incentivise responsible dog ownership and help to prevent such devastating attacks in the future.”

Mr Joannou was walking Emilie, affectionately known as Millie, on the lead in Chalkwell Park in Leigh-on-Sea when the attack happened in December 2021.

He said the other dog who was not on the lead came at her “like a missile” and “within seconds” she was “torn in two in front of my eyes”.

Mr Joannou rushed the eight-year-old bichon frise to the vets but she died shortly afterwards.

He said: “My emotions are as strong now as they were on the day it happened and I just hope that something comes to justify the loss of Millie.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “Dog attacks can have tragic consequences – which is why it is a criminal offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to allow any dog to be dangerously out of control.”

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