Last week (08/05/23) Peter Gibson MP attended an event to support the introduction of new legislation to criminalise fatal dog-on-dog attacks. At an event in the House of Commons, Anna Firth MP formally launched her new Private Members Bill, entitled “The Animal Welfare (Responsibility for Dog Attacks) Bill.”
The Bill will criminalise fatal dog-on-dog attacks in the UK, ensuring that irresponsible dog owners are held to account. It is informally named ‘Emilie’s Law’ after Anna Firth MP’s constituent Michael’s bichon fries, who lost her life to a dog attack in 2021 in Chalkwell Park in Leigh-on-Sea.
Recently Darlington has seen a similar attack, where Sasha, a mixed breed terrier, was attacked by a German Shepherd in South Park, while this incident was not fatal, it demonstrates the need for action in this area.
Emilie’s Law will have its First Reading in the House of Commons led by Anna Firth MP on Wednesday 23rd May.
The new legislation will address a key gap in the law which currently states that a dog owner is not liable for any form of prosecution when their dog fatally attacks another dog. The only exemptions are if the injured pet is an assistance or a service dog, or unless another human is injured or attacked or seen to be at risk.
In the five years between 2016 and 2021 there was a 700% increase in dog-on-dog attacks, rising to 11,559 from just 1,700.
The Bill is being supported by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, which campaigns to improve conditions for animals, as well as a number of MPs, including Mr Gibson.
Speaking about the Bill, Mr Gibson said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and I know that if anything were ever to happen to my own dogs, I would be distraught.
“This Bill would close a loophole in current legislation that allowed irresponsible dog owners 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. I look forward to supporting my colleague Anna Firth as she brings this important Bill forward for its First Reading on 23rd May”