Amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 came into force earlier this year. Many dog owners are unaware of these changes and their implications.
Many dog owners are under the misapprehension that the Dangerous Dogs Act applies solely to “dangerous dogs” i.e pit bull terriers, the Japanese tosa, the dogo Argentinio and the fila Braziliero.
Section 3 of the Act applies to every single dog owner in England and Wales. Under this section, it is a criminal offence for the person in charge of the dog to allow it to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place. This applies whether your dog is a pit bull terrier or a Chihuahua. Your dog doesn’t have to bite someone to be deemed dangerously out of control in the eyes of the law. Even if your dog does not bite, but gives the person grounds to feel that the dog may injure them, the law still applies.
Prior to May of this year an offence of being the owner of a dog “dangerously out of control” could only be committed in a public place.
This is no longer the case. An offence under section 3 of the Act can be committed in any place, whether public or private.
On 30th November 2009, four year old John-Paul Massey was mauled to death by his Uncle’s dog, an American bull mastiff. Due to the previous law, Christian Foulkes was never prosecuted in respect of John-Paul’s death. He did however face charges in respect of the breeding of banned dogs. It is the many number of tragic cases such as John-Paul’s that has led to the loophole in the law being tightened.
Dog owners can take precautionary measures to ensure that they do not fall foul of the law by ensuring that gardens are secure and that dogs are trained properly in respect of greeting guests.
Should you have any queries regarding the Dangerous Dogs Act and it’s implications, please do not hesitate to contact our Criminal Department