How does the law affect you as an owner?

As a responsible dog owner you need to know about dog laws – your rights and responsibilities, in order to protect yourself, your dog and others around you.

Dog Identification – Any dog in a public place must wear a collar with a tag bearing the name and address of the owner.  Your telephone number is optional but advisable – this can be particularly helpful if your dog does get lost so that you can be contacted directly. The dogs name is not required on the tag.  It is now a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped by eight weeks of age, and it is the responsibility of a new owner to ensure that these details are up-to-date.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 – This applies to ALL dogs, not just banned breeds.  It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control:

  • In a public place
  • In a private place (e.g a neighbours house or garden)
  • In the owners home

In the eyes of the law your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • Injures someone – this could be through jumping up and causing them to fall over.
  • Makes someone worried that it might injure them, so no actual injury has taken place, merely the fear of injury.
  • Injures someones animal.
  • The owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal.

A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s worrying their livestock.

There are penalties for you as an owner:

  • You can be fined up to £5,000 and/or sent to prison for up to 6 months if your dog is out of control. You may also not be allowed to own a dog in the future.
  • If you let your dog injure someone, you can be sent to prison for up to 2 years and/or fined.
  • If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison.

Your dog could be seized and impounded whilst an investigation tales place and you will not be allowed contact with your dog, or you could be issued with a control order meaning that your dog has to be muzzled and on lead in public at all times. The dog can be issued with a destruction order.

Investing time into training and socialisation is now more important than ever.  Owners need to take the control of their dogs seriously to prevent themselves facing criminal proceedings, or to prevent their dog paying the ultimate price with either its freedom or its life.

For more information see government guidelines & Dog laws UK | Blue Cross