Dog attack law set to be extended

Blackpool Citizen: Thousands of postal workers are attacked by dogs every year, mainly on private property, such as gardens and drives Thousands of postal workers are attacked by dogs every year, mainly on private property, such as gardens and drives

The Government is set to announce plans to extend legal protection over dog attacks to cover incidents on private property.

The move will be a boost for postmen and women, health visitors and others who call at private addresses but who have not been covered by the law if they are bitten by a dog.

Ministers are also expected to announce compulsory microchipping of dogs, with owners being given three years to comply. Both measures will cover England and follow a consultation last year on issues including dangerous dogs.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is expected to say the law will be changed to close a loophole which prevents police from taking action against the owners of dogs that attack people on private property.

It is believed police will be given new authority to decide whether a dog which is subject to court proceedings needs to be kept apart from its owners until the outcome. Previously, all such dogs had to be kennelled until proceedings had concluded, even if they posed no risk to the public.

Around 110,000 stray dogs are picked up by police, local authorities and animal welfare charities each year, with around half unable to be reunited with their owner because they cannot be identified. Around 6,000 dogs are put down each year, while strays cost the taxpayer and welfare charities £57 million a year.

Thousands of postal workers and hundreds of telecom engineers are attacked by dogs every year, mainly on private property, such as gardens, drives and private roads.

The law has been changed in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with legislation in the process of being altered in Wales.

More than 6,000 members of the public needed hospital treatment after being attacked by dogs between 2010 and 2011. Eight children and six adults have been killed in dog attacks since 2005.

The Dogs Trust, which has been campaigning for compulsory microchipping for over a decade, said it would welcome any announcement on the issue from ministers, adding: "This immediate method of identification is essential to improve dog welfare and we believe it will help to reduce the number of dogs that needlessly end up with an uncertain fate in council pounds and rescue centres when their owners simply cannot be traced."

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