Do you know the Law
Do you understand the Dangerous Dogs Act?
Like 90% of the people I talk to, you would probably say yes, however there is no defined understanding of the Law as it stands to date. The other 10% just freely admit they do not know the Law.
Well there are 24 Acts of Parliament relating to dogs and a further 11 relating to animals in general, with another 15 statutory orders and regulations that relate to animals. Each and every one is currently in force. Now that is a lot of legal government paperwork to look through just to understand the Law.
I am not surprised that we as the general public and dog owners have no true understanding. All be it complicated these Laws can be broken down into three sections;
Somewhere hidden in these three sections is a law that any dog could fall foul of if we do not become responsible owners. Let me demonstrate by using an example like the Hunting Act 2004. This a controversial Law and believed by many only to affect Fox Hunting but is in essence it affects everyone that owns a dog and walks across a park, field or anywhere there are wild mammals.
The Law state’s that if you deliberately allow your dog to hunt, flush, chase or kill a wild mammal without permission you are breaking the Law which will prosecute with a heavy fine and possible custodial sentence. So the next time you take little Tinkerbell to the Park and say “look squirrels” think about what you are doing at that point. Although the Hunting Law is primarily to curb the illegal hunting with dogs it does make you think about how a simple fun game for us and our dogs could have serious consequences.
Let’s move on though as we really need to be looking at the Law that on the 13th May 2014 changed every dog owner’s life forever. The Dangerous Dogs Laws; Commonly referred to as the DDA which is part of the Dogs Act 1871 amended in 1906 and again in 1938. The DDA was actually written in to the Dogs Act in 1989 and then modified to become Dangerous Dogs Act which was introduced in August 1991.
It has to date only been amended twice the first in 1997 and again in 2014 but still remains the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. If I was to say one thing there is zero tolerance when it comes to the DDA, in fact there is now less since it has been amended. The Legislation is composed of different sections but most people still think of the DDA is about banned breeds where it actually covers all dogs of any breed and any type of unsociable behaviour. It is only Section One of the Act, which covers the banned types. Section One of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 applies to the following
Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a medium-sized, solidly built, short haired dog whose early ancestors came from England and Ireland. It is a member of the molosser breed group. The American Staffordshire Terrier and The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) by breed are from the same lineage; Staffordshire was the name given by American Kennel Club (AKC), and American Pit Bull Terriers by United Kennel Club (UKC). Twelve countries in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Venezuela have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions and conditions on ownership. The state of New South Wales in Australia places restrictions on the breed, including mandatory sterilization. The breed is banned in the United Kingdom, the Canadian province of Ontario, and few counties and cities in the United States. Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a medium-sized, solidly built, short haired dog whose early ancestors came from England and Ireland. It is a member of the molosser breed group. The American Staffordshire Terrier and The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) by breed are from the same lineage; Staffordshire was the name given by American Kennel Club (AKC), and American Pit Bull Terriers by United Kennel Club (UKC). Twelve countries in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Venezuela have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions and conditions on ownership. The state of New South Wales in Australia places restrictions on the breed, including mandatory sterilization. The breed is banned in the United Kingdom, the Canadian province of Ontario, and few counties and cities in the United States.
The Fila Brasileiro (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈfilɐ ˌbraziˈlejɾu]) also known as the Brazilian Mastiff is a large workingbreed of dog developed in Brazil. It is known for its superb tracking ability, aggressiveness and an unforgiving impetuous temperament. When a Brazilian Mastiff finds its quarry, it does not attack it, but rather holds it at bay until the hunter arrives. Owing to these qualities, the Brazilian Mastiff is used as a guard dog, as a shepherd dog for herding livestock and as a hunting dog for tracking and controlling large prey. When slavery was legal in Brazil, the Brazilian Mastiff was used to return fugitives unharmed to their slave masters. Owing to its size, temperament and potential for aggression, the Brazilian Mastiff has been banned in many countries. Ancestry and appearance The Fila Brasileiro is a descendant of the 15th-century English mastiff, bloodhound, bulldog and rafeiros. Its bloodhound ancestry being evident in its long muzzle and pendulous skin. It is a Molosser breed with large bones and loose skin. The breed standard requires males to be between 65 and 75 cm (25.5 inches to 29.5 inches) high at the withers and weigh at least 50 kg (110 lbs), and up to 180 lbs. Females are slightly smaller and are expected to be 60 to 70 cm (23.5 inches to 27.5 inches) high at the withers and weigh at least 40 kg (90 lbs). They have a rectangular build and though they are massive, their natural agility is apparent. The head is big and heavy with a deep muzzle. The ears are large, thick, tapered and either droop or fold back exposing the interior, depending on mood. Neck and back are well muscled, the chest is broad and deep. Unlike the vast majority of canines, the croup is higher than the withers. Legs are heavily boned. The skin is very distinctive of the breed as it is thick and loose all over the body, mainly in the region around the neck. The thick skin forms pronounced dewlaps. In many individuals, the dewlaps proceed to the chest and abdomen. Some dogs show a fold at the side of the head and also at the withers descending to the shoulders. The coat is short and dense and the texture is normally smooth and soft. Their colours vary from solid, brindle, mouse grey, patched, dappled or black and tan. They are almost never white. Typical colours are fawn, black and brindle. Brindles of a basic color may have the stripes of either less or with very strong intensity. Sometimes a black mask is present. Though large in size, the Fila does not appear static. Rather he is harmonious, cat-like and above all powerful. The expression is noble, solemn, dignified but somewhat melancholic. The Fila appears self-assured and calm but is never absent in expression. When at attention, the gaze of the Fila Brasileiro is firm, alert and unwavering. Another typical characteristic of the breed is its gait, which is similar to that of a camel, moving two legs of one side at a time. The gait gives it a typical rolling lateral movement on the throat and the hindquarters which is accentuated when the dogs tail is raised. The head is typically lower than the backline. The characteristic carriage and gait has earned it great success in dog shows. Sourced from; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fila_Brasileiro
The Japanese Tosa (also called the Tosa Inu) is a breed of dog of Japanese origin that is considered rare. It was originally bred in Tosa (present day KÅchi) as a fighting dog and still is today. Appearance The Tosa varies considerably in size, with the Japanese-bred dogs tending to be about half the size of those bred outside the country. The Japanese breed generally weighs between 80 and 135 pounds (36 and 61 kg), while the non-Japanese breeders have focused on dogs that weigh from 130 to 200 lb (60 to 100 kg) and stand 24.5 to 32 inches (62 to 82 cm) at the withers. The coat is characterized by its short and smooth appearance and is often red, brindle, or fawn. Occasionally it can be a dull black, but this is somewhat rare. Maintenance of the coat is usually minimal. History The head of a Tosa This breed originated in the second half of the nineteenth century. The breed started from the native Shikoku-Inu, an indigenous dog weighing about 25 kilograms (45 pounds) and standing about 55 centimetres high, which closely resembles the European Spitz. These dogs were crossed with European dog breeds, such as the Old English Bulldog in 1872, Mastiff in 1874, St. Bernard, German Pointer in 1876, Great Dane in 1924, and the Bull Terrier. The aim was to breed a larger, more powerful dog. The heyday of Tosa breeding was between 1924 and 1933, when it was said that there were more than 5,000 Tosa breeders in Japan. Legal matters Ownership of Tosas is legally restricted in certain jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom ownership is regulated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and in Trinidad & Tobago under the Dangerous Dogs Act 2000. A specific exemption of a British court is required to own and import Tosas legally in the UK. Some insurance companies will not insure homes with dog breeds deemed dangerous. The Australian Customs Service prohibits the import of Tosas, along with other dog breeds considered dangerous, into Australia. The Tosa is one of eleven breeds of dog banned in 2007 by the Dublin City Council from their properties, including council houses, flats and estates. The breed is illegal/banned in: United Kingdom Australia Cyprus Denmark Hong Kong Iceland Malaysia where the country’s government claimed that the Tosas are specifically bred for fighting; the step was made in order to combat the increasing number of dog attacks on humans, especially children. Malta New Zealand Norway Singapore Turkey Sourced from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tosa_(dog)
IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANY OR ANYONE TO BREED, SELL, EXCHANGE ADVERTISE OR EXPOSE FOR SALE IN THE UK
It is also illegal to allow such a dog in public without a lead and muzzle, abandon, or be in possession of a dog as named above. However if you are a responsible owner and already own a Pit Bull Type you may be able to legally keep your dog so long you have them registered, insured , tattooed, castrated or spayed, muzzled and on lead in Public at all times. This is a legal requirement and if you do not comply you are liable and your dog will be took away from you and destroyed. So if you asked anyone what the DDA they would probably know the above was a problem but the rest of the act is what this article is all about especially the new amendment.
Section 3 of Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is where anyone can fall foul as it makes it an offence for any dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place. The offence is deemed to have been committed by the “Owner “of the dog and by whoever is in “Charge” of the dog at the time of the offence. This means that as the owner if you allow another person to be in charge of your dog and an incident ensues, you can be liable. Section 3 is not breed specific, which means it applies to ALL dog’s breeds including cross breeds. This is where the confusion that many people have about DDA. If you own a dog, this section applies to you.
How do we define “Out of control in law”? Simply put “If a person reasonably believes the dog could injure them, then there could be grounds for charges”. The DDA when it comes to dog on dog attack uses the term “Reasonable Apprehension” which is why you may see cases where a charge has been brought and another case where no charge is brought. It all comes down to whether or not there are grounds for a case to be brought under the DDA. Section three of the DDA before the amendment in May 2014 did not apply to private property where all dogs had the right to be free in their own home and property.
It did, however, cover any premises deemed to be a public place. The penalty for having any dog deemed to be out of control in a public place stood at a fine of £5000 to £6000 or up to a prison term of 6 months to 2 years and a destruction order being placed of your dog depending on the severity of the incident.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 was passed as a new law on the 13th of March 2014.
Part 7-Dangerous Dogs; sections 106-107 amended the DDA and it came into force on the 13th of May 2014. So as I previously stated before the amendment is was an offence to have a dog ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place, or a place where the dog is not permitted. This law now has been extended to include all places which yes include your own
The term written in to this amendment “Dangerously out of control” comes under the same definition as before “a dog is presumed to be on any occasion when there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that the dog will injure any person, whether or not it actually does so” So what happens if we find ourselves falling foul of this Law through no fault of our own, this Law for many people has already become a way to voice their own prejudice against dogs and dog owners.
There has already been so much publicity regarding dogs which have caused injury in the home so it is important to understand that section 3 has been extended. Your dog doesn’t need to have caused injury to be deemed dangerously out of control, it could also include knocking against someone or your dog accidentally scratching through jumping up. Ultimately the courts will decide but there is a possible defence but only for limited situations it’s called the “householder’ clause“.
Education is now the way forward, with dog bite prevention courses and promoting safety and responsible dog ownership for all. At the moment there is no Legal aid to cover civil proceedings under the DDA but this is being worked on by many organisations that are lobbying the Government on this matter. Unfortunately if legal aid is not available many dog owners will not be in a position to defend or get representation for themselves and their dog in court, which could lead to automatic dog destruction orders being passed.
These amendments are just the start of a disastrous down turn for the public acceptance for one of the longest interspecies relationship between man and his dog.
Please keep yourself and your dog safe and stay within the Law.