The Kennel Club (KC) has welcomed an act that gives new powers to local authorities and the police to deal with irresponsible dog owners.

However, according to the KC, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014) could leave responsible owners “open to being unjustly penalised by potentially over-zealous local authorities“.

The law – which comes into effect today (Monday October 20) – includes a number of preventive measures that will improve “many of the inadequacies” of previous dog control legislation, said the KC. Community protection notices, for example, are intended to reduce the number of irresponsible owners that allow their dogs to be out of control in public by targeting them at the first signs of anti-social behaviour.

However, the KC said it is concerned that public space protection orders – which are replacing dog control orders and enable local authorities to place restrictions on dog walking – no longer requires local authorities to advertise their public consultation in the local newspaper before the orders are introduced. This is included as a recommendation in the guidance accompanying the act, said the club, but it is not a mandatory requirement, meaning dog owners “may not be aware of potential restrictions” in their area.

The KC also has concerns about the lack of resources and mandatory training for enforcers tasked with dealing with anti-social behaviour. This could prevent the act from being properly implemented and enforced, it said.

KC secretary Caroline Kisko said the KC was “glad” the new law reflects what it “has believed in for a long time” – that irresponsible owners “should be held to account” for the behaviour of their pets.

“The measures introduced send a clear message to owners regarding their responsibility to train and socialise their pets and rightly shifts legislative focus to the correct end of the lead – at dog owners themselves,” she said.

However, the lack of a mandatory requirement for coordination with the KC and other authorities is “disappointing“, she added.

“As it stands, local authorities can choose to ignore the views of organisations that represent dog owners, such as the Kennel Club, meaning dog owners could potentially lose their voice and dogs across the country could suffer.”

The new act follows the introduction of amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) earlier in the year, which extended the law to cover private property as well as increasing maximum sentences for those who fail to properly control their dogs. These measures were welcomed by the club.

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