Mayor backs tough new dog sentences

The region's mayor has spoken of a tragic teenager while backing tough new sentences which have been introduced for irresponsible dog owners.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 6:00 am
Jade Lomas-Anderson

Greater Manchester interim mayor Tony Lloyd talked of the death of 14-year-old Jade Lomas-Anderson, who was mauled by a pack of dogs at a house in Atherton in 2013, as he welcomed the Sentencing Council’s new guidelines.

The new advice for courts following changes in the law in 2014 which increased the maximum sentence for a fatal dog attack from two to 14 years.

The guidelines cover offences where a dog kills or injures a person or where someone owns a banned breed of dog.

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Tony Lloyd taking part in a blindfold walk in Tameside with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Mr Lloyd, who is also Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner (PCC), said: “Harsher punishments for irresponsible dog owners is something I have campaigned for so this is another welcome step to ensure that people are held to account for the actions of their dog.

“With the right family, dogs can be loyal, loving companions and the vast majority of dog owners are responsible. But there are those who have no regard for the safety of other people or their pets, and refuse to keep their dog under control. We’ve seen the tragic consequences of this in Greater Manchester, with the death of Jade Anderson in 2014, and numerous attacks since.

“But we know that prevention is better than cure and the government still needs to go further with a focus on prevention and education, so authorities can deal with irresponsible dog owners before a tragedy happens.”

Jade’s stepdad Michael Anderson has campaigned extensively since her death for tougher sentences and also for courts to hand out the harshest penalties to offenders more consistently.

Tony Lloyd taking part in a blindfold walk in Tameside with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Jade was mauled by four animals, an American bulldog, a bull mastiff cross and two Staffordshire bull terrier-type dogs, at a house in Chaucer Grove in March 2013.

The dogs’ owner, Beverley Concannon, was given a suspended sentence for causing unnecessary suffering to the animals at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court, a decision which drew strong criticism from the Anderson family.

In the wake of the tragedy the Wigan Evening Post also campaigned alongside Mr Anderson for the reintroduction of dog licences, which earned support from MPs.

The new guidelines also cover incidents where assistance dogs are injured. There are currently around 10 attacks of this type every month.

Mr Lloyd said: “Guide dogs are a lifeline to people with sight loss and an attack on their dog robs them of their independence and freedom.

“So it’s good news that these harsher sentences will take account of the devastating impact an attack on a guide dog has, not just on the animal, but on their owner.”