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The dangerous dogs act and other dog related laws

Although many owners are aware that laws exist relating to dog ownership, few are aware of the details and the responsibilities they place on them. This article takes a brief look at the recent acts of Parliament, which cover dogs and their owners.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992

  • Every dog while in a highway or in a place of public resort must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it. Exceptions being hunting hound packs or whilst dogs are being used for sporting purposes, capture of vermin, herding or rescue work. Also, dogs for the registered blind or used by the armed forces, customs and excise or the police are exempt.
  • Dogs not meeting this criteria can be seized and treated as a stray by your local authority under the Environment Protection Act (see below). Note that the police have no powers under this act.
  • The full details of the act can be found here.

The Environment Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992

  • All local authorities must appoint an officer to deal with stray dogs found in the local authorities area. The regulation places certain responsibilities on this officer in terms of recording key information (breed, where it was found etc) and ensuring procedures are followed relating to contact of owners.
  • Should the owner reclaim the dog, a fine of £25 (plus any expenses) will be charged.
  • The full details of the act can be found here.

The Dangerous Dog Act 1991

This act is relatively detailed and can be found in its entirety by clicking here. The highlights are as follows:

  • The Dangerous Dog Act applies to ALL dogs.
  • If a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place, the owner or person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence. A dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person, whether or not it actually does so.
  • This offence can result in a fine or a prison sentence not exceeding 6 months. The dog may also be destroyed and the owner disqualified from owning a dog for a specific period of time.
  • A Police constable or an officer of the local authority may seize a dog if they consider it dangerously out of control.
  • Specific regulations apply to fighting dogs. These are deemed as Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa or any dog considered by the Secretary of State to have been breed for fighting. The act looks likely to prohibit these dogs entirely in the future, but currently in such cases it is an offence if you:
    • breed, sell or exchange such a dog
    • have the dog in a public place without a muzzle and kept on a lead.
    • allow the dog to stray.