You may not realise but there are several laws that you should be aware of when dog walking. Several pieces of legislation relate to the ownership and control of dogs in a public, open place and it is strongly advised that you familiarise yourself with each piece of legislation.
The first piece of legislation that you should be aware of is the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 which enables a local authority to create what is called a Dog Control Order. This order covers the Dogs, Fouling of Land Act and other pieces of legislation that relates to keeping dogs under control. Specifically the Dog Control Order can designate certain places as being prohibited for dogs such as beaches and cemeteries.
Local authorities are afforded a number of powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for anyone who has committed a dog walking offence. These offences are usually dealt with by civil legislation but failure to supply your name or address or providing false or inaccurate information is a criminal offence.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that it is a criminal offence to allow or cause a dog to be on a road which has been designated as such by the local authority without being on a lead. There are certain exceptions however and this relates to rounding up sheep or cattle in the course of trade or business or the dogs are used and under the correct control for sporting reasons.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that every dog in a public place or on a highway must wear a collar with the owners name and address inscribed on a plate badge attached to the collar. There are certain exceptions and these apply to:
- Packs of dogs or hounds used for sporting activities
- Dogs being used to destroy or capture vermin
- Dogs which are used to round up sheep or cattle
- Dogs that are accompanied by a member of the Police, armed forces or customs and excise
- Dogs which are being used as part of search and rescue operations
Guide dogs for the blind
The Animal Health Act 1981 states that it is a criminal offence to be in charge of a dog and fail to adhere to the requirements outlined in the Control of Dogs Order 1992. This legislation also states that dogs can be seized as a stray under the Dogs Act 1906 or the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Local authorities are responsible for the enforcement of this legislation.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 states that it is a criminal offence to permit a Japanese Tosa, pit bull terrier or any other dog which has been identified as a dog which has specifically been bred to fight, to be in a public place without wearing a muzzle and on a lead. The person in charge of the dog must also be over the age of 16 years. Breaching these rules can result in a prison sentence and or a fine. Courts also have the power to order the dog to be destructed and the owner disqualified from owning the dog for a period of time which is at the discretion of the court.
If a dog is in a public place and it is dangerously out of control the owner or person in charge of the dog at the time could face criminal proceedings including a prison sentence in addition to a fine. Furthermore, if the dog goes on to injure a person, the offence will increase in seriousness, escalating to an aggravated offence. If the dog was under the control of an individual who was not the owner but they were deemed to be a ‘fit and proper’ individual, the owner can present a defence based on this information. Offences of this nature are serious and could result in the dog being destroyed.
Dogs and Livestock
Under the Animals Act 1971, a dog can cause damage through injuring or killing livestock, the keeper of the dog assumes liability for this damage. In addition this legislation enables a defence to be presented which results in killing or injury in a situation where the defendant acted in such a way that protected their livestock.
The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 states that a criminal offence is committed if a dog is on agricultural land and it causes problems for livestock. This offence will result in a fine. There are however exceptions to this rule which primarily relate to trained sheep dogs, police and guide dogs, working gun dogs or hounds.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.