Your dog and the law
As a responsible dog owner, it is important for you to meet with the requirements of the law. There are a number of Acts and Orders which all dog owners should be aware of.
Control of Dogs Order 1992: This requires that every dog, while in a public place, wears a collar with the name and address of his owner inscribed on it or on a disc attached to it. If a dog is is not wearing a collar when out in a public place, the dog may be seized and treated as a stray. Also the owner, and any person in charge of the dog permitting him to be in a public place without a collar, will each be guilty of an offence and may be prosecuted and fined. If your dog does stray, you should immediately contact the dog warden.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows for dogs to be seized and sold or destroyed if unclaimed after a seven day period.
Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (outside London) and Metropolitan Police Act 1839 (London): These Acts make it an offence to allow an unmuzzled, ferocious dog to be left at large, or for a person to set on or to urge any dog attack, worry or put in fear any person or animal in the street.
Dogs Act 1871: Under this Act, a court may, upon complaint that a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control, order the owner to keep him under proper control or to be destroyed.
Animals Act 1971: Under this Act a dog may be shot, without warning, by a farmer for worrying his livestock and the owner could face criminal prosecution for the same offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
Road Traffic Act 1988: This makes it an offence to have a dog on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead.
Guard Dogs Act 1975: It is an offence to use or permit the use of a guard dog on any premises unless the handler, who is capable of controlling him, is present on the premises and the dog is under control. The dog must be secured so that he is not free to go about the premises. A warning that a guard dog is present must be clearly exhibited at each entrance to the premises.
Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991: There are two main sections to this Act
Section 1 applies to four specific breeds of dog including the type of dog known as the pit bull terrier. Owners of these breeds have to comply with certain legal requirements, including having their dog registered, neutered, microchipped and tattooed.
Section 2 applies to all dogs, making it a criminal offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place. This includes instances where there is a fear that an injury might occur.
Owners found guilty under either section of the Act could have their dog destroyed, face the possibility of six months in prison and be fined up to £5,000.
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005: Since 6 April 2006 local authorities in England and Wales have had the power to introduce new Dog Control Orders under this Act.
These Orders may restrict where you can walk your dog (on or off lead), how many dogs you can walk at one time, and make it an offence if a person in charge of a dog fails to clean up its faeces. Designated land may include roads, parks and other public areas within the council's boundaries; in fact any land which is open to the air and to which the public are permitted to have access.
If you break these Orders, you could be fined up to £1,000. It is no defence to claim ignorance of the dog's actions or the law.
There are several Acts on the Statute Book to protect dogs from ill treatment, among them are the following:
Animal Welfare Act 2006: This Act introduced the legal concept of a duty of care, which means that people are now legally obliged to ensure the welfare of the animals in their care. A person who owns a dog, or is looking after a dog (or other animals covered by the Act) must make sure the dog has a suitable environment; has a suitable diet; is able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns; is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. The carer must also address the dogs need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals.
The Act also covers the sale of animals to people under 16 years, dog fighting, tail docking and more.
Abandonment of Animals Act 1960: This Act extends the definition of cruelty to include abandoning an animal.