Offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act

The Dangerous Dogs Act sets out legislation prohibiting or restricting dog owners from keeping certain breeds and makes it an offence to allow any breed of dog to be dangerously out of control.

If you have been accused of a criminal offence in relation to your dog our experienced solicitors can help you.

If your dog is found to be dangerously out of control, not kept under proper control, or is a prohibited breed, it is likely that the court will order it be put down.

Here at Draycott Browne, we understand how much love owners have for their pets and that the thought of a dog being destroyed is extremely distressing.

Whatever the circumstances of your case, our experienced defence team will work tirelessly to ensure the very best possible outcome for your case.

Our specialist Dangerous Dogs Solicitors are well-versed in this complex and emotive area of UK Dog Law and are available to help you throughout the entire process.

If you have been accused of an offence in relation to a dangerous dog, call now to discuss how our expert Criminal Defence Solicitors could help.

Prohibited Breeds Offences

In the UK, the Dangerous Dog Acts lists which dog breeds are prohibited. It is illegal to knowingly breed, sell, buy or abandon any one of these dogs. Those who are found guilty of committing such offences may be liable to spend time in prison.

Our criminal defence team have handled many cases of prohibited breeds offences and have the knowledge and experience to help you if you have been accused of owning a prohibited dog.

We understand that the thought of losing a pet can be devastating, and that making sense of a complex legal trial whilst experiencing such emotions can be difficult.

That's why our compassionate team of Criminal Defence Solicitors will be by your side throughout your case, guiding you through the unfolding proceedings, ensuring you are supported through each aspect of it, and making your and your pet’s best interests our priority.

What breeds are banned?

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991, it is illegal to knowingly buy, sell, give away, or abandon any dog that belongs to one of the following four breeds. The crossbreeding of any of these dogs - whether it be with other banned dogs or other legal dogs - is also expressly forbidden.

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Any type of dog having the characteristics of being bred with the clear purpose of fighting

Contrary to popular belief, determining whether a dog belongs to a prohibited breed is not an exact science, and it is perfectly possible for individuals to innocently acquire dogs which are later categorised as belonging to a prohibited breed. As such, you may have unwittingly become the owner of a dog from a banned breed.

Sadly, if your dog is identified by officials as belonging to a prohibited breed, it is possible that the dog will be destroyed.

For a dog to be legally destroyed, the court must make a Contingent Destruction Order, which states that the dog should be humanely euthanised. However, for dogs which are a prohibited breed but which are not dangerous, it is possible for their owners to apply for exemption certificates that allow them to maintain ownership of the dog, providing that they satisfy a number of stipulated conditions.

How can I determine if my dog belongs to a banned breed?

Whether your dog is deemed to belong to one of the banned breeds depends on its appearance and character. If your dog is suspected of being a banned breed of dog, an expert from the police or from your local council will be tasked with examining and assessing your dogs' characteristics. If you are accused of owning a dog that is a banned breed, it is your responsibility, not the prosecution's, to prove that the dog is not a banned type.

What will happen if my dog is deemed to be a prohibited breed?

In many cases, dogs who are identified as a banned breed will be humanely destroyed by a veterinarian. However, it is possible for owners who unknowingly purchased prohibited dogs to obtain an exemption certificate from the police if they can prove that their dog is not dangerous.

If you have been accused of owning a prohibited breed, we can help you to form a defence that shows your dog was not consciously obtained as a banned breed, and that it is not dangerous. Doing this could result in your dog being entered in the Index of Exempted Dogs, which will allow you to keep your dog for the duration of its life, provided that it is kept under certain conditions such as:

  • The dog must be microchipped
  • In order to avoid breeding, it must be neutered
  • It must be insured through a third party for the entirety of its life
  • A unique numerical code provided by Defra must be tattooed on the dog
  • The home and garden of the dog’s primary residence must be secured against possible escape
  • It must be kept on a lead and muzzled when in public, and only be supervised by a person over the age of 16

You must also agree to regularly update records such as the dog’s address, and you will have to notify the Index of Exempted Dogs of the animal’s death.

If you are found guilty of knowingly breeding, selling, advertising or exchanging a prohibited breed of dog, you could face up to six months in prison, and a fine that amounts to 75-125% of your weekly income.

Dangerously Out of Control Dog Offences

Although the UK has a set list of banned breeds that it is illegal to own and breed, it is recognised that all dogs have the potential to be dangerous.

A dog is classified as a dangerous dog if it has:

  • Injured someone
  • Caused someone to feel that it is likely to injure them
  • Attacked and injured another person’s dog or other animal
  • Made someone feel afraid that they will be injured if they attempt to intervene and rescue their dog from your dog

The law applies to all types of dogs and covers not only incidents that occur in public places, but also incidents that occur in private places such as personal homes. It should also be noted that, unlike other similar offences defined by English Law, a person may be found guilty under the Dangerous Dogs Act regardless of the existence of criminal, hurtful or reckless intent: a basis for persecution may subsist even if no injury was sustained by another person or animal.

If your dog was involved in this type of incident, it is imperative you seek immediate assistance. Our knowledgeable and professional team can help you reach the best outcome for you and your pet. Call us today or fill in our contact form to get in touch with one of our experienced specialist solicitors for the advice you need.

Penalties for Dangerous Dogs Offences

If a dog is believed to be dangerously out of control, it will likely be seized by the police. If the dog has caused serious injury to someone, it is likely that a court order will be issued to destroy the dog, and that you will face criminal proceedings.

Owner/in charge of a dog that is dangerously out of control in England or Wales
Up to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 125%-175% of your weekly salary

Owner/in charge of a dangerously out of control dog that causes injury to another person
Up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of between 125%-175% of your weekly salary

Owner/in charge of a dangerously out of control dog that causes a dog to be killed or injured
 Up to three years’ imprisonment and a community order of between 75% and 125% of your weekly salary

Owner/in charge of a dangerously out of control dog that causes the death of a person
Up to 14 years in custody

Additionally, you will likely be disqualified from owning a dog for a set period of time, and you may be required to pay compensation to anyone who your dog has injured. Your dog could also be destroyed.

How we can help

If you are arrested or charged in relation to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is important that you know your rights, and contact one of our experienced and tenacious defence lawyers before you speak to the police.

Contacting a solicitor at the early stages of a criminal investigation is not an admission of guilt but is an intelligent and sensible step to take when facing a police investigation of any kind. The law that governs dangerous dog offences is complex and emotive and, as such, the help of a compassionate, experienced, and impartial solicitor is necessary to guide you through the legal proceedings.

If you are charged, your solicitor will work with you to examine evidence, collect witness testimonies, and build a defence that is designed to secure the very best possible outcome for your case.

Our experienced solicitors are available now to offer legal assistance if you are currently undergoing an investigation under the Dangerous Dog Act.

Get in touch

Draycott Browne's team of Criminal Defence Lawyers in Manchester is highly regarded across the legal profession and has a proven track record across a multitude of challenging cases involving dangerous dog laws, animal welfare and RSPCA Prosecutions. We pride ourselves on our determination and dedication to achieve the right result.

Our team of experienced, high-skilled solicitors offer their services throughout the UK. We regularly provide specialist criminal defence representation to clients in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and London. We provide expert legal advice and representation to anyone. Whether you are in the police station, Magistrates’ Court or in prison, our trusted solicitors are here to build a strong and robust defence strategy for you.

With your freedom at stake, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne and the quality legal expertise that the team provides.

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, call Draycott Browne today or complete our online contact form.

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