Under this Act it is an offence for any person in any street to:
Let an unmuzzled ferocious dog be at large so that it obstructs or annoys the residents or passengers in the street, or puts them in danger.
To set on or urge any dog to attack, worry or put in fear any person or animal.
A dog is not considered to be 'at large' while held on its lead and the word 'street' is given an extended meaning to include any road, square, court, alley, thoroughfare or public passage.
This Act applies only in the Metropolitan Police District and is a similar offence as the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847. It differs only I that it is an offence to let an unmuzzled dog be at large (no obstruction, annoyance or danger need be shown) and that the public place is described as ANY thoroughfare or public place.
This Act refers t the duty of care you have to your visitors, for example, people you invite onto or permit to use your land or premises, whether expressly or by implication. (This includes postal workers, meter readers or anyone else invited or permitted to be there)
You must take reasonable care to ensure that these visitors will be safe to carry out whatever it is you have invited or permitted them to do on your premises or land.
The definition of 'livestock' for criminal proceedings under this Act include cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses and poultry. Game birds are not included, however for the purposes of civil proceedings under this Act, pheasants, partridge and grouse in captivity ARE included.
Under this Act, it is a criminal offence for a dog to be at large (not on a lead) or otherwise under close control, in a field of sheep. Sheep dogs and police dogs are exempted from this provision.
It is also a criminal offence if a dog worries livestock on agricultural land.
'Worrying' is when a dog attacks or chases livestock in such a way that it could reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering, or, in the case of female livestock, abortion or the loss or diminution of their produce.
An offence has NOT been committed if:
At the time of worrying, the livestock were trespassing or
The dog belonged to the owner of the land on which the trespassing livestock were and the person in charge of the dog did not cause the dog to attack the livestock.
This Act is enforced by the Police and not the local authority.
The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is used alongside the Animals Act 1971.
This Act places civil liability for damages done by a dog on the keeper of that dog. This includes damage by killing or injuring livestock. The keeper of a dog for the purposes of this Act is the owner OR the person in possession of the dog. If the owner/keeper is under the age of 16, th head of the household is liable.
Important advice to dog owners and walkers.
Whether you live in a rural area or are simply visiting the countryside for a walk, you have a responsibility for keeping your dog under control at all times. All dog should be on a short fixed lead when walking anywhere near livestock. The most well behaved placid dog can become a menace when encountering livestock so do keep your dog under strict control.
Dogs caught worrying sheep are likely to be shot and their owners liable to prosecution and heavy costs.
Owners of pet dogs should be aware that the displaying of any sign which implies that any resident dogs are guard dogs could leave them open to prosecution under certain circumstances and could also imply that they were aware that their animals could pose a risk under the Dogs Act 1871, the Animals Act 1971 or even potentially the Guard Dogs Act 1975.
Any signs on display should be carefully worded. "Caution, dogs running free" would perhaps encourage people to ensure they take care to close gates whereas a sign saying "Warning-dogs loose" may imply that your pet is kept as a guard dog and that it might be dangerous.
Many of the provisions of this Act, including sections 2, 3, 4 and 6 are not yet in force, with only sections 1 and 5 applying.
Section 1 of this Act prohibits the use of a guard dog unless a handler capable of controlling the dog is present on the premises at all times, and the dog is under the strict control of the handler unless secured (and is not at liberty to run free). The use of any such dog is prohibited unless a notice warning that a guard dog is present is clearly exhibited at each entrance to the premises.
Section 5 of this Act refers to a breach of Section 1 and will result in criminal liability and a fine of up to £5000.
From a legal point of view, the requirements to have a notice at each entrance point warning that guard dogs are present, in those circumstances in which the word 'entrance' has not been defined is somewhat vague. Would a hole in a perimeter fence constitute an entrance point for example? From a legal point of view it is possible.
Guard dog use and the common law.
The common law of tort applies to the ownership of all animals and not just dogs.
Any owner of domestic animals may be liable, on the grounds of negligence for damage caused to third parties by the animals.
Civil liability of the owner depends on whether or not the owner owes a duty of care to the relevant third party and whether or not it was directly foreseeable that the animal would cause the injury suffered.
For example, if a child climbed through a hole in the perimeter fencing and entered a premises patrolled by guard dogs (even those complying with the Guard Dogs Act) and was then badly mauled by a guard dog secured on a chain, the owner and keeper of the guard dog would likely be strictly liable for the damage caused under the terms of the Animals Act 1971 and could ALSO be criminally liable for the aggravated offence under the Guard Dogs Act 1975.
In addition to this, they could be liable for a damages claim under the common law of tort in circumstances where it could be argues that damage was foreseeable, and that the security operator had not checked the security of the perimeter fencing before deploying guard dogs.
The dogs Act 1871 is a civil application usually made by the police or local authority but which can also be actioned by individuals. Unlike Section 3 of the DDA which applies only to public places (or private places where the dog is not permitted to be), the Dogs Act 1871 applies regardless of where the incident takes place. Proceedings under this Act can only be brought against the owner of the dog.
A dog is generally regarded as not being under proper control if:
It is neither on a lead or muzzled.
The dog shows itself to dangerous in its general behaviour, not just in its behaviour towards a person.
A single incident is unlikely to be sufficient to prove that a dog is dangerous, unless the court believes that the single incident is exceptional.
This Act provides for ANY person to make a complaint to the police or Magistrates court that a dog is dangerous. If the court is satisfied that a dog is dangerous and is not being kept under proper control, they make make an order for the dog to be kept under proper control or that it be destroyed.
There is no presumption for destruction under this Act, and control orders can be general in that an order is simply made that the dog be kept under proper control in the future. A court can issue a control order with no restrictions or may attach conditions such as leashing or muzzling. Where a court does make an order for destruction of the dog, it may also, under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989,- Appoint a person to undertake its destruction and require any person having custody of the dog to deliver it up for that purpose and,
As the civil standard of proof applies, an order may be made by the court on the balance of probabilities that a dog is dangerous. In addition, where an incident has taken place on private premises, it may be possible for a person to initiate civil proceedings to claim damages on the basis that the person owning or controlling the dog was negligent.
Where a person has been invited on to premises by the occupier, then that occupier may also become liable for any injury suffered by the visitor under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957. This Act generally covers the state of the premises but has been applied to cover damage caused by animals present on those premises.
The Animals Act 1971 also provides that in certain circumstances, the keeper of an animal is liable for any damage it causes if he knew it was likely to cause damage or injury unrestrained.
Dangerous Dogs Act Section 3
This section relates to all dogs of all breeds and breed types.
Section 3 makes it a CRIMINAL offence for ANY dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place and the offence is deemed to have been committed by whoever is in charge of the dog at the time of the offence AND by the owner of the dog whether or not they are present when the offence is committed.
If your dog is in the control of someone other than you at the time of the offence, you may have a defence if you can show that you have good reason to believe that the person is a fit and proper person to be in charge of your dog.
If the dog is owned by a person under the age of 16, or if you leave a dog with a person under the age of 16, the law deems that the head of that persons household is responsible. This is usually the child's parent or guardian.
If, while dangerously out of control, your dog injures a person, then a much greater offence has been committed and the penalties are likely to be higher.
'Dangerously out of control' is defined in law as "any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that a dog will injure any person". This means that a dog may be deemed dangerous even if it does not actually injure someone. If a person reasonably believes that the dog could injure them then there could be grounds for a prosecution.
Section 3 relates to public places. A public place is defined as "Any street, road, or other place (whether or not enclosed) to which the public have access or are permitted to have access whether for payment or otherwise and includes the common parts of a building containing two or more separate dwellings".
In shared buildings, the stairways and lifts and communal hallways are considered to be a public place.
There have been cases where the inside of a car has been deemed a public place.
Public places are also private places where a dog has no right to be. For example, if your dog enters someone else's home and injures or causes apprehension that it may injure a person.
If you are found guilty of an offence under Section 3, the following penalties may apply.Dangerously out of control without causing injury to a person:
Dangerously out of control and causing injury to a person on summary conviction (A hearing before a judge not a jury):
Control orders can be tailored to address the concerns of each individual case and most commonly include:
The laws in Northern Ireland differ from ours in several respects, however the breed specific part of the Act 9Article 25a) is essentially the same as that of England in that there are four banned breeds (and types thereof)
It is an offence to own or be possession of any dog to which article 25 a applies.
Until July 2011 there was no amendment to the Act and there was a mandatory destruction order on all dogs found to be of a banned breed type.
The amendment to the Act lifted the mandatory destruction order and gave the courts discretionary powers to exempt the dog if satisfied it poses no danger to public safety. The owner of dog must agree to the conditions of exemption which are the same as in England with the exception of tattooing.
In England, DEFRA maintain the Index of Exempted Dogs whereas in Northern Ireland, individual councils run their own exemption registers.
The Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 can be found here
Again, as in the rest of the UK, the four prohibited breeds and breed types remain the same.
If you are at all worried about your dogs appearance and are considering contacting the police, please ring us first for advice and assistance.
This section of the Act applies to the following ‘type’ of dogs:
• Japanese Tosa
• Fila Brasiliero
• Dogo Argentino
• Pit Bull Terrier
It is illegal to own or be in possession of one of these breeds or breed types. For a dog to be ‘of type’ such as ‘the type known as the pit bull terrier’ it must have a substantial number of characteristics of a pit bull terrier but does not need ALL of them. This means that many cross breeds and even pure bred dogs of other legal breeds may be deemed to be ‘of type’ if they do not conform to their own breed standard.
Prior to 1997 there was a mandatory destruction order on all four breeds and types thereof. However in 1997 the Act was amended to remove the mandatory death sentence and the courts were given discretionary power to add the dog to the Index of Exempted Dogs as an alternative to destruction. To do this the court must now be satisfied that the dog poses no danger to public safety and the owner or person in charge of it appears to the court to be a fit and proper person to own such a dog. If the courts agree to the dog being exempted they will issue a ‘Contingent Destruction Order’ meaning that the dog will not be destroyed provided the owner abides by certain conditions within an 8 week time frame.
Failure to comply with the conditions of exemption will result in the dog being destroyed.
Conditions of exemption are as follows
• The dog must be microchipped.
• The dog must be muzzled and kept on lead in public places at ALL times, including the car.
• The dog must be neutered
• Relevant third party liability insurance must be in place and remain so for the lifetime of the dog
• The dog must not be walked by any person under the age of sixteen
• The dog must not be bred from, gifted, sold or otherwise disposed of.
For a dog to be defined as ‘Dangerous’ under this section of the Act it does not need to have acted dangerously or be aggressive. A dog must simply have a substantial number of characteristics of one of the four banned breeds to be classed as an illegal dog.
If a dog is thought to be of the type it can and often will be seized and conveyed to secure kennels.
If the dog is in a public place a police officer or officer appointed by a local authority (Dog Warden for example) can legally seize the dog without a warrant. It does not matter who is in charge of the dog at this time.
It is an offence for any person, whether owner or not to be in possession of a banned breed or breed type even if they are not its owner.
If your dog is at home (private property) then officers will need to obtain a warrant in order to seize your dog, using such force as is reasonably necessary (unless you hand the dog over to them voluntarily) they may also seize any other thing which might be evidence of an offence.
If the police arrive at your home without a warrant you are within your rights to refuse entry however this will not stop your dog from being taken as officers will simply obtain a warrant and return.
You do not need to be at home for the police to enter with a warrant and seize any dog they believe to be of type. A warrant gives them the right to force entry even if you are not present.
The police or appointed officer does not need to have proof that your dog is of type before they seize it. They simply need to believe that it could be. In some cases an appointed breed identification expert will be in attendance to examine the dog and in any case, an appointed breed ID expert will examine your dog if it is seized and conveyed to kennels.
If the expert believes the dog is not of the type it will be allowed to remain with you or return home and no further action will be taken.
The police or local authority CANNOT destroy your dog for being ‘type’ without a court order UNLESS you consent to the dog being euthanised. Without your consent, the relevant authority must make an application to the court for a destruction order.
The courts will not necessarily order destruction and may instead agree to enter your dog onto the Index of Exempted Dogs.
If your dog is seized as a suspected type dog you may be given very little information. It is unlikely that you will be told where the dog is being kept and you will almost certainly NOT be allowed to visit.
You may be asked to give your consent for any veterinary treatment and should advise the seizing authority if the dog is taking any medication or has any special dietary needs.
The seizing authority has a duty of care towards all animals in their care. This means that animals should have adequate food, water, exercise and veterinary treatment.
If your dog requires any vaccinations, including boosters you should advise the relevant authority either at the time of seizure or as soon as possible afterwards. It is advisable to keep a written record of any telephone calls or written correspondence and to take the names, collar numbers and if possible, contact telephone numbers of every officer you deal with directly or by telephone.
Once the dog has been conveyed to kennels, a breed identification expert will be appointed to examine your dog. This can sometimes take several days or weeks.
Once an expert has determined in his or her opinion that your dog falls within the category of ‘type you will be contacted and informed of their findings.
You may be asked if you wish to disclaim your dog. If you agree to disclaim, your dog will be euthanised.
You should NOT feel under any pressure to disclaim. You have a right to a hearing in the courts where you may (on the advice of your own expert) challenge the presumption of ‘type’ and in any event will be able to ask the courts to consider making a contingent destruction order as an alternative to destruction.
It is possible that the area in which you live operates the Interim Exemption Scheme if this is the case and upon risk assessment it is possible that the authorities may allow your dog to return home to you pending court subject to conditions, however in our experience very few police forces are actively using the Interim Exemption Scheme which is at the discretion of the chief police officer of the force area so this is not something you can insist upon, however it is something that could be used when mitigating any application for kennelling costs at court.
The seizing authorities have two routes open to them at this point. They can bring criminal charges against you or they can bring a civil application, both of which come under Section 1 of the Act.
Section 1 is a criminal charge. To charge a person under Section 1, the authorities must prepare a file to send to the Crown Prosecution Service who will decide if there is sufficient evidence to bring about a prosecution. If a dog has been identified as a banned breed type the case will almost certainly go ahead.
It can take a number of weeks or even months for a decision to made by the CPS during which time your dog will remain in kennels.
As this is a criminal charge you will be interviewed under caution and charged and we recommend you take legal advice and instruct a solicitor to attend all interviews with you. Free representation is available at police interview stage either by the duty solicitor, solicitor of your choice, or an agent of the solicitor you choose.
It is normal for a criminal case to take on average 6 months from the time your dog is seized to the first court hearing. As this is a criminal charge you will be able to apply for and subject to your means be granted legal aid to help you to fund your defence.
If you are pleading not guilty to owning a banned breed type, your solicitor will need to instruct an independent breed identification expert to examine your dog and report on their findings.
If you can satisfy the court that your dog does not have substantial characteristics of a banned breed type your dog will be returned to you with no restrictions.
If you are unable to satisfy the court that the dog is not of the type, you can still ask the courts to consider making a contingent destruction order and exempting the dog under section 4A of the act providing that YOU have satisfied them that the dog poses no danger to public safety, that you are a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog, and you agree to abide by the conditions of exemption. Under Section 1 of the DDA, the burden of proof is reversed.
This means that it is not up to the prosecution to prove your dog is of a banned breed type, it is up to the defence (you) to prove it is not. In any prosecution it is presumed that the dog IS of a banned type unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary. If you are unable to satisfy the courts that
• a) your dog is not of the type and
• b) if it is of type that it does not pose a danger to public safety, and that you are a fit and proper person to be in charge of it
Then they are likely to make an order for destruction under section 4 of the act.
You have the right to appeal against this decision. As with any criminal charge, if you are found guilty you will receive a criminal record.
You MAY also be fined up to £5000 or receive a prison sentence of up to 6 months. You may also be disqualified from owning a dog for a period of time if the court thinks fit.
Large fines and prison sentences are rarely given to ‘normal’ responsible dog owners whose dog is simply unfortunate enough to fit the definition of ‘type’.
Section 1 (4B Civil applications) This section refers to ‘destruction order otherwise than on conviction’ and this section has been inserted into the original Act of 1991. This means that the relevant authority may apply directly to the CIVIL court for a destruction order
Simply put, it would be an offence for the authority to release your dog back to you without you breaking the law by being in possession of it.
If the seizing authority decide to apply for destruction under 4B you will not have a criminal record.
Applying to the courts under section 4B does NOT mean that the courts will order destruction, or necessarily that the authorities are asking for a destruction order.
This is often a simpler and faster way of getting you to court without the need to criminalise you.
On average a civil application takes between 1-12 weeks from the point of seizure. As this is a civil action not a criminal charge there is no legal aid available to help you fund your defence.
The courts may still order the destruction of your dog under this section if you fail to satisfy them that your dog poses no danger to public safety or that you are a fit and proper person, and the burden of proof is still reversed. If you decide to instruct a solicitor or dispute ‘type’ you will have to pay for your own legal representative and expert.
This can be expensive and prevents many people from being able to provide expert evidence on ‘type’.
You may have no need to instruct a solicitor for a 4b application, but we do suggest that you to contact us for advice on this and on how to properly prepare for court.
We may also be able to assist with locating and in some cases assisting with funding a breed identification expert if needed.
If you satisfy the courts that your dog poses no danger to public safety and that you are fit and proper, they will likely order that your dog be added to the Index of Exempted Dogs providing you comply with the conditions of exemption within the specified time frame of 8 weeks.
If you fail to satisfy the courts, they will issue an order for destruction of the dog.
You have the right to appeal this decision and must do so within 21 days of the order.
You will not receive a criminal record, or prison sentence or fine under this section of the Act however you may be ordered to pay a court application fee and in some cases, kennelling costs and legal fees for the prosecution.
If your dog is exempted under either section, there are certain costs that must be met by everyone. There is currently an exemption fee payable to DEFRA. Your dog will not be released until this fee is paid and third party liability insurance is in place.
DOGS TRUST have a membership scheme in place which INCLUDES relevant third party liability insurance and costs £25 per year. The policy covers a member for up to 10 dogs and is accepted by DEFRA as being suitable for exempted dogs.
You can join Dogs Trust at any time and it’s wise to have this insurance in place before you attend any court hearing.
Each police force or local authority applies for costs differently so these will depend on the area you live in. In some areas you will be asked to pay for or contribute towards your dogs kennelling, transport home, neutering and microchipping, whilst in other areas these costs or some of them at least are covered by the authority.
We usually have an up to date list of likely costs for the larger authorities and can get an estimate on your request for areas we do not currently hold information for. It is NOT possible for an owner to obtain exemption for a banned bred type without police or local authority intervention and a subsequent court appearance, however some forces and courts will look more favourably at your case if you voluntarily produce your dog for examination.
If you are at all worried about your dogs appearance and are considering contacting the police, please ring us first for advice and assistance.