Trevor Cooper, a dog law specialist for Dogs Trust, said: ‘The difficulty for dog owners is in how they can anticipate a child coming in to their garden.
‘What can a dog owner do to prevent it? Put the dog in a cage in the garden or build large fences? That would be unacceptable for us.
‘The Government is going to have to work out a way of not criminalising dog owners if they have done nothing wrong.
‘It's quite difficult for a dog to distinguish between a lawful and unlawful visitor. I would hope that common sense will prevail.You have to be joking, surely? When has common sense ever prevailed?
David Heath, the agriculture minister, said: ‘We certainly want to deal with the issue of the postman or the political canvasser who gets bitten by a dog out in the yard or garden, where they have perfectly legitimate business.‘‘The postman, I’ll grant you. The political canvasser? No. Not so much.
‘But we also do not want to penalise the householder whose dog is doing its job of protecting property against an intruder.
‘Getting that balance right is critical. When someone is within a house, it can reasonably be assumed that unless they have been invited in, they must give a strong argument for why they have legitimate business in the house.’And after they’ve been invited in – like vampires – they are free to do as they please? I think not!
Speaking to the Commons last month Mr Heath added: ‘It is different for a garden, or sometimes even a shed. A child going to pick up a football that has been kicked into a garden should not be set upon by a dangerous dog.
‘They may be an intruder, but they are nevertheless not a burglar or anyone with malicious intent. A public–interest test must be satisfied before a prosecution can be brought. I hope that the guidance to the prosecuting authority will make that distinction clear,' The Daily Telegraph reported.And remember, a ‘child’ - in the eyes of various conflicting legal definitions - is anyone up to the age of 18. So, just a few months younger than this chap:
Fancy having him stroll into your garden unchallenged, and able to call the police to declare him a ‘victim’ just looking to retrieve a lost ball?
No. Me neither.