As a responsible dog owner, you need to know about dog laws – your rights and responsibilities, in order to protect yourself, your dog and other dogs.
Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act was introduced on April 6th 2007. From this date, the Act repealed the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Abandonment of animals
Act 1960. The new Act increases and introduces new penalties to tackle acts of cruelty, neglect, mutilation, tail docking, animal fighting and the giving of pets as prizes. In addition to this it introduces a duty of care for all pet owners to provide for their animals a suitable environment, a suitable diet, the ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease and consideration of the animal’s needs to be housed with, or apart from, other animals.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
Under this Act, you could be fined up to £1,000 for breaching dog control orders. Local authorities can make orders for standard offences including: failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a dog on a lead, not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so, permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded and taking more than a specified number of dogs on to land.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act also updates the law on stray dogs by transferring the responsibility for strays from the police to the local authorities. It is highly recommended that your dog is microchipped and registered.
If you lose your dog, you should stay in regular contact with the local council, your microchip company, vets, dog shelters, and put up posters in the area where you lost it. (For outdoor flyers you may need to get permission from your council).
Dog wardens are obliged to seize stray dogs. The finder of a stray dog must return it to its owner (if known), or take it to the local authority. It is illegal to take a found dog into your home without reporting it to the police first. If you want to retain the dog, this might be allowed, provided you are capable of looking after the
dog and agree to keep it for at least 28 days. However, the original owner could still have a claim for the dog’s return.
Byelaws on noisy animals
If your dog’s barking causes a serious nuisance to neighbours, the local authority can serve a noise abatement notice, which if unheeded can result in you paying fines and legal expenses.
Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
Breeders who breed five or more litters per year must be licensed by their local authority. Breeders with fewer litters must also be licensed if they are carrying out a business of breeding dogs for sale.
Licensed breeders must:
a) Not mate a bitch less than 12 months old.
b) Not whelp more than six litters from a bitch.
c) Not whelp two litters within a 12 month period from the same bitch.
d) Keep accurate records.
e) Not sell a puppy until it is at least eight weeks of age, other than to a keeper of a licensed pet shop or Scottish rearing establishment.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992
This mandates that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag. Your telephone number is optional (but advisable).
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (section 3)
It is a criminal offence (for the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog) to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place, a place where it is not permitted to be, and some other areas. A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds for reasonable apprehension that it may do so. Something as simple as your dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could lead to a complaint, so ensure that your dog is under control at all times.
If your dog injures a person, it may be seized by the police and your penalty may include a prison sentence and/or a ban on keeping dogs. There is also an automatic presumption that your dog will be destroyed (unless you can persuade the court that it is not a danger to the public, in which case it may be subject to a control order). You may also have to pay a fine, compensation and costs.
Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997
The 1991 Act was amended by the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997. The 1997 Act removed the mandatory destruction order provisions on banned breeds and re-opened the Index of Exempted Dogs for dogs which the courts consider would not pose a risk to the public. The courts were given discretion on sentencing, with only courts able to direct that a dog be placed on the list of exempted dogs.
Dogs of the following type are banned under the Dangerous Dog Act:
- The Pit Bull Terrier
- Fila Brasiliero
- Dogo Argentino
- Japanese Tosa
Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 2014
The key areas of change in this act are as follows:
- the extension of section three to apply to all places including private property
- the extension of section three to apply to assistance dogs
- extended rights of seizure
- increased sentencing
- courts’ new assessment in deciding whether a dog is a danger to public safety
- civil proceedings.
RoadTraffic Act 1988
It is an offence to have a dog on a designated road without it being held on a lead. Dogs travelling in vehicles should not be a nuisance, or in any way distract the driver during a journey.
Animal Act 1971
You could be liable for damage caused by your dog under this act, it it was the result of some degree of negligence.
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
Your dog must no worry (chase or attack) live-stock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry) on agricultural land. Farmers have the right to stop your dog even by shooting it in certain circumstances.