Dangerous dogs – The legal implications


Many people in the UK own a pet of some kind, with one of the most popular choices being a dog. There are thousands of different dog breeds across the Britain, most of which are well brought up and soon become an essential part or people’s families.

However, if our dogs are not well socialised or are a banned breed, this can lead to dog attacks that can range from superficial grazes to severe lacerations. In recent studies it has been suggested that most dog attacks are due to a dog not being trained by its owner.

In the face of this, organisations, such as the kennel club, suggest that all dogs should be socialised from a young age (ideally before the age of 12 months) to ensure that they are less likely to show aggressive tendencies towards other dogs and humans.

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act ?

The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 prohibits people from owning or holding custody of a dog or dogs, belonging to types of breed who are bred for fighting.

According to the act, banned breeds include:
• Pit Bull Terrier
• Japanese Tosa
• Dogo Argentino
• Fila Braziliero
It is also illegal to:
• Sell a banned breed
• Abandon a banned breed
• Give away a banned breed
• Breed from a banned breed

Even if your dog may not be classed as a banned breed but has the characteristics of a banned breed, this may also be considered illegal. Dogs that are not on the banned breed register may also be considered dangerous if they pose any threat to society, such as having a history of attacking people or being known to have taken part in banned sports such as dog fighting.

Dog attacks in the news

Recently in May this year a dog was retained and its owner taken away by the Police because it attacked 11 children in a park in Northumberland. The dog is not thought to be a banned breed, but took a group of bystanders to capture the dog and restrain it.

Not long after this news story, a 45 year old man in Cumbria was attacked and killed by his dog in a brutal attack. A police officer at the scene said that he hadn’t seen anything like it in his 20 years of service. The dog in question, which was believed to be a Staffordshire Terrier Cross,  had to be tasered, as the police officers could not control the dog and was later euthanized. It was believed that the dog only stopped because the victim’s two daughters pulled the dog away from him, but by this time the damage was done and sadly the man passed away.

One Police officer at the scene recounted the ordeal:

“There was a lot of blood everywhere and the dog was still in a room quite close to the landing.

“The door wasn’t that secure and behind the door the dog was barking very loudly and trying to get out.”

These articles in the news highlight the dangers of some dogs that are meant to be part of the family. This also shows how there is a growing problem in the UK of owners not adequately training their dogs to live peacefully side by side with society.

What should you do if a dog shows signs of aggression?

Organisations, such as the Kennel Club, state that if you believe that a dog is showing signs of aggression, including snarling, bearing teeth or it’s ears being pushed back, then you should not make eye contact and stand still. If the dog was to then attack you, curl into a ball on the floor and keep calm.

Possible implications of a dog bite

Dogs have a lot of bacteria in their mouths and a bite can sometimes lead to an infection. Some of the symptoms NHS choices have listed of infection from a bite are –

  • Redness and swelling around the wound
  • Persistent pain at the wound area
  • Fluid and/or pus leaking from the wound
  • High temperature and flu-like symptoms

Rarer and more serious complications of an infection are blood poisoning, meningitis and endocarditis.

Scott Rees & Co – Animal attack specialist

Our specialist team has expertise in dealing with a whole range of personal injury claim, including animal attacks. We understand the trauma involved with such an attack and more importantly we understand how to help you with your recovery.

For more information on how we can help you with your dog attack claim, give us a call on  0800 61 43 61 or visit our dog attack claims page on our website.

Image Source

1. Huffington Post; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/caroline-kisko/dangerous-dogs-versus-dangerous-owners_b_9487284.html

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