Proceedings in relation to dangerous dogs can be complex and it is essential that specialist assistance is sought at an early stage.
Having a dog dangerously out of control (Section 3 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991)
The principal offence relating to dangerous dogs is that of having a dog which is dangerously out of control in a public place.
No intent or recklessness is required for liability and a person can be found guilty of this offence even if the dog was on a lead and had never behaved in such a manner previously.
If the dog is alleged to have injured a person, this is an aggravated offence. Where an aggravated offence is proven the court must order the destruction of the dog unless it is satisfied you are a suitable owner and there is no risk to the public.
Penalties for these offences can include both imprisonment and the destruction of the dog. A court can also disqualify you from keeping a dog and order compensation be paid to the victim.
The police have the power to seize your dog and keep it pending the conclusion of the case.
Dogs not kept under proper control (Section 2 Dogs Act 1871)
This is a lesser used piece of legislation whereby civil proceedings can be taken against the owner of a dog that is dangerous and not under proper control.
Possession of a prohibited breed of dog (Section 1 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991)
Under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act it is an offence to be in possession of any of the following types of dog unless they have been registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs and the conditions of exemption are complied with:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Japanese Tosa
- Fila Braziliero
It is also unlawful to sell a prohibited breed of dog, give one away, abandon it or allow it to stray. It is also unlawful to breed, or breed from, a prohibited dog or to advertise one for sale. All offences under s1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 carry a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment. The court can also disqualify a person from keeping dogs.
What is a Pit Bull Dog?
For a dog to be considered a “pit bull” type, it must have a substantial number of the physical characteristics of a pit bull terrier. These characteristics are listed in a number of places and the courts generally rely on the American Dog Breeders Association’s Basis of Conformation for the American Pit Bull Terrier. This is a functional standard which describes the ideal, and so the dog does not have to have every characteristic to be regarded as a pit bull. The High Court has ruled that the behaviour of a dog is relevant but not conclusive when determining whether a dog is a pit bull type.
Applications can be made to the Courts for orders seeking either the control or the destruction of dogs even if criminal proceedings are not commenced.
We can advise and represent you in relation to opposing a destruction order and seek to persuade the court to impose a contingent destruction order instead.
Contingent Destruction Orders
If a court is satisfied that you are a suitable owner and that your dog does not pose a risk to the public, they can make a contingent destruction order under section 4 A of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
A contingent order means that rather than immediate destruction, as long as there are no further incidents, the dog remains alive.
Such order allows your dog to come home subject to stringent conditions including the following:
- Tattooing with a unique number provided by Defra
- Third party insurance for life
- Registration on the Index of Exempted Dogs
- The dog must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public, can only be walked by someone over the age of 16 years and your home and garden must be secure to prevent escape.
Failure to comply with these conditions could lead to your dog being seized and you being prosecuted.
How can Olliers help me and my dog?
At Olliers we have significant experience of dealing with dangerous dogs and applications for destruction. We have long standing relationships with a number of leading dog experts whose expert evidence can be crucial in relation to applications for destruction orders. Please contact us on 0161 8341515 to discuss your options in detail.
We do not deal with dangerous dogs cases on a legally aided basis. We can accept instructions on a privately funded basis either by way of an agreed fixed fee or by quotation with regard to an hourly rate. We can also advise in relation to the possibility of crowd funding or funding that may be available from various charitable organisations.
Our team consists of Laura Baumanis and Ruth Peters. Both Laura and Ruth are life long dog lovers. Laura has two dogs – ‘Archie’ who is a pug and ‘Luna’ a Shar-Pei. Ruth has a black Labrador ‘Tara’. They both understand the strong emotions that can arise in such cases and that a dog is an extremely well loved member of the family.