Here is a quick guide to the UK’s current dog related legislation. It is also worth noting that from April 6th 2016, all dogs will have to be micro chipped by law, and the details kept up to date and correct.
This 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 Control of Dogs Order 1992
This Act requires that any dog in a public place must wear a tag with the owners name and address and telephone number on it.
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. It 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 micro chipped. 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 results in you paying fines and legal expenses.
The local authority must license breeders who breed five or more litters per year. 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
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, the police may seize it 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
It is an offence to have a dog on a designated road without it being held on a lead. Local authorities may have similar byelaws covering public areas. Dogs traveling in vehicles should not be a nuisance or in any way distract the driver during a journey.
If a dog is injured in a car accident, the driver must stop and give their details to the person in charge of the dog. If there is no person in charge of the dog, the incident must be reported to the police within 24 hours.
You could be liable for damage caused by your dog under this Act or under some degree of negligence. It is highly advisable to have third party liability insurance to cover this, something that is included in most pet and some household insurance policies.
Your dog must not worry (chase or attack) livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry) on agricultural land, so keep your dog on a lead around livestock. If your dog worries livestock, the farmer has the right to stop your dog (even by shooting your dog in certain circumstances).
(Source : The Kennel Club)