THE owner of a helpless puppy which was mauled to death by a pack of vicious hounds has welcomed new powers to target thugs with out-of-control dogs.
So-called doggy Asbos or “dog control notices” will give police and local authorities the power to force owners to take responsibility for their pets.
It is part of a crackdown on out-of-control dogs amid growing concern at the number of attacks on people.
The measures has already been rolled out in Scotland and is expected to be introduced throughout the UK.
Cookie, a cross between a Yorkshire terrier and a poodle, was walking with her owner Andrew Byrne on the field behind Leigh Sports Village when she was attacked in May last year.
Four dogs, believed to be lurchers and greyhounds, pounced on her. Cookie met her death when the dogs tore fur off her legs and ripped her chest open. She died a short time later. The owner of the attacking dogs cycled off on his bike.
Cookie’s other owner Debbie Byrne said: “After our experience, I think it’s a good idea to give any extra power to tackle dangerous dogs. At the moment the punishment does not fit the crime.
“The current Dangerous Dogs Act has a list of banned breeds but any out-of-control dog can be dangerous. It will be in their instinct if they have been trained to hunt.”
Police and council wardens will have power to hand out on-the-spot dog control notices – or doggy Asbos.
The act aims to judge dogs on their behaviour, not breed, and gives powers to impose penalties on irresponsible owners.
Owners who fail to comply with the dog control notices could be forced to keep their pet on a lead at all times, have it muzzled, neutered, attend special training courses, face a fine of up to £1,000 or even see the dog destroyed.
The measures amend the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so that a dog owner can be held criminally responsible where a dog is found to be dangerously out of control in any place rather than just public or private places where a dog is not permitted to be.