Dangerous Dogs Act
This act of law is to protect people from injury, or fear of injury by dogs.
It came about after a number of incidents in which people were seriously injured by dog attacks, usually by dogs which are bred for the purpose of fighting.
The Act sets out which types of dogs the prohibitions apply to, namely:
- The Pit Bull Terrier
- The Japanese Tosa
- The Dogo Argentino
- The Fila Braziliero
Section 1(2) makes it an offence to breed, sell, exchange, offer, advertise for sale, give away, allow to be in a public place when unmuzzled or not on a lead, any of the these breeds of dog.
Section 1(3) prohibits the ownership of any type listed under s1(1) unless it is exempted on the Index of Exempted Dogs. It is also an offence to own these dogs unless they are notified to the police, have been neutered, are insured and the owner holds a certificate of exemption.
Section 3 creates a criminal offence of allowing any dog (i.e. of any breed or type) to be dangerously out of control in a public place or a place to where it is not allowed. A dog can be regarded as being dangerously out of control on any occasion where it causes fear or apprehension to a person that it may injure them. Furthermore, if that dog does injure a person then the offence is aggravated. Legal action may be taken against the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog at the time and can result in a prison sentence for the person responsible. The injured person may also sue for damages.
Complaints about dogs - Dogs Act 1871
For complaints that a dog that is dangerous and not kept under proper control it is the dog’s owner who is proceeded against. Civil proceedings are brought at a Magistrates’ Court and this can be done by the police, local authorities, or individual members of the public.
Section 2 requires that the owner is brought before a Magistrates’ court on a complaint and if the Magistrate is satisfied that the complaint is justified they can make any order they feel appropriate to require the owner to ensure that the dog is kept under proper control or in extreme cases destroyed.
Importantly this is regardless of whether the dog is in a private or public place.
Who enforces the law ?
The police should be contacted concerning dangerous or banned dogs as they have primary responsibility for the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Contact the police by telephoning 101.