Parliament to discuss stiffer sentences for dog attacks amid latest killing

Pit bull terrier

MPs are due to discuss new legislation in the next few weeks to deal with the growing problem of dogs attacking humans. Under a bill to be submitted to parliament, dog owners would face much stiffer punishments if their dog kills or maims someone. The bill comes after the latest case in which a man was apparently killed by three Staffordshire terriers.

Pit bull terrier
The latest case occurred on Saturday evening in the village of Nizebohy, in North Bohemia. The body of a local man was discovered at the gates of the farm where he worked, apparently ripped to pieces by dogs. Police believe he was attacked by three Staffordshire terriers belonging to a family living next door. The animals were seized by police and have been placed in a dog shelter. Forensic scientists are now examining their excrement to see whether it contains human tissue.

The grisly case was only the latest in a series of attacks by dogs on humans. According to the statistics, up to 30 people a day are attacked by dogs - either theirs or someone else's. An average of two people - often young children - are killed every year. "Fighting" breeds like Staffordshire terriers or Rottweilers actually account for the minority of attacks - half of them are caused by mongrels.

Staffordshire terrier
Under a new law to be submitted to parliament by Christian Democrat MP Michaela Sojdrova, the sentences for dog attacks will be much stricter. Dog-owners whose animals kill someone could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, as opposed to the current five. Serious injury will be punished by up to two years in prison: at present mostly suspended sentences are handed out. The punishment for death caused by deliberately setting a dog upon someone will remain the same: the crime is qualified as murder, and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Mrs Sojdrova hopes the bill, which has been in preparation for four years, will coerce dog-breeders to keep their dogs under greater control. The bill appears to have cross-party support. However some MPs have expressed concern that the sentences are too high, and the issue is therefore likely to provoke a lively debate in parliament.