TOUGHER sentences for dangerous dog owners have been welcomed by relatives of a schoolboy scarred for life by a vicious pet.
Brave Karl Morson must live with the scars left on his face after a Rottweiler attacked him as he was playing just yards from his home in August.
The five-year-old, of Sulgrave, Washington, was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital where he underwent surgery to stitch together his face.
Despite surviving the ordeal, Karl has been left severely traumatised and today his grandad Dave, 70, has welcomed tougher sentencing for those convicted of dangerous dog offences.
He said: “I’m glad that something is being done because this is a problem that has been going on for a long time and anything that deters people from keeping dangerous dogs is good.”
Under the guidelines, which are published today, offenders face more severe punishments when they are brought before the courts.
These include tougher prison sentences and community orders being dealt out and fewer people escaping with discharges.
Courts are also being handed the power to ban irresponsible dog owners from keeping pets, order dangerous dogs to be put down and compensation paid to victims, something the Morson family have been fighting for.
Dave said: “I really am glad to see something being done, although this should have happened a long time ago.
“It’s only right that victims get compensation too. If Karl had been attacked by a person, he would get thousands of pounds.”
Karl has been left terrified of dogs since the attack. This week was the first time he went to play outside his house alone.
“Understandably, he’s terrified of dogs now and he’s too scared to play outside by himself in case a dog attacks him,” Dave said.
“This was the first time he went outside by himself. We watched him at all times, but he was out there for about half an hour so that’s a start.”
The guidelines have been introduced after a consultation that involved more than 500 members of the public, judges, magistrates, police and animal welfare organisations.
Anne Arnold, district judge and member of the Sentencing Council, said: “Most dog owners are responsible and take good care of their pets.
“But we’ve seen more and more cases coming before the courts of owners who have put the public at risk or let their dog cause injuries, sometimes very serious, to people.
“As a result, this new sentencing guideline encourages courts to use their full powers when dealing with offenders so that they are jailed where appropriate.”
After being published today, the new guidelines will be introduced in courts from August 20.