Proposed new dangerous dog law
There has been an increase in the number of dog attacks over recent months and as a result,there is a need to promote responsible ownership. The Government has acted and is re-evaluating the law governing dogs and their owners in the hope that the number of dog attacks may be significantly reduced.
The following amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 are being considered:
- It will be an offence for any dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including in private property (which is currently excluded from legislation). This change in the law will provide protection to vulnerable groups such as healthcare and postal workers, who have to visit private properties as part of their day-to-day job. This means that dog owners will be held responsible if they fail to prevent their animal attacking a person even if the attack takes place in a private place. It should be noted, however, that there is still no protection for burglars who are attacked by a householder’s dog.
- Compulsory micro-chipping will be introduced for all dogs from April 2016. This will promote responsible dog ownership by improving the traceability of a dog and its owner.
- It will be possible for Government officials and representatives to remove any dog which appears to be dangerously out of control from any place, including the dog’s home.
- The Court will take into account the character of the dog’s owner in an attempt to tackle irresponsible ownership. When a banned breed of dog is identified, its owners can apply to have it exempted from destruction. In assessing this application, the Court will consider the character of the person in charge of the banned breed, as well the temperament and past behaviour of the dog.
- If you do have a banned breed of dog then you may request for the dog to be placed on the Index of Exempt Dogs (IED). Your dog will be accepted on the IED if the Court thinks it is not a danger to the public. The current fee to apply for the IED is £20 plus VAT and the Government will pay any additional admin charges. This fee is due to be increased to £77 plus VAT.
The proposed changes are not yet law. However, it is expected that the draft amendments will be approved and the new law applying to dogs and their owners will be in force by April 2014.
With these changes taking place, it is more important than ever to seek professional legal advice if you are or have been the victim of a dog attack.
We pride ourselves on providing a high-quality, professional service at our offices across the Bristol and South Gloucestershire areas. For certain cases we can even visit you at home.