Your legal responsibilities as a dog owner
Owning a dog can bring lots of enjoyment and happiness but it is also a lifelong responsibility. A dog needs to be cared for properly and responsibly and there are a number of legal responsibilities that you must follow which are summarised below:
Ensuring your dog wears a collar tag when out in a public place
Your dog must wear a collar and tag by law when out in a public place, which includes contact details of the owner. This information will assist in the dog being re-united with its owner. More information is available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/901/made.
Dog Control Orders
The council recognises that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible. They pick up after their dogs and keep them under proper control. However, there are a minority of people who don't and this creates a number of problems.
Following a public consultation, East Staffordshire Borough Council has implemented new Dog Control Orders, which came into effect on 1st April 2010 and will affect dog owners within the borough.
The Dog Control Orders require dog owners to:
- Clean up after a dog has fouled
- Keep dogs on a lead in designated areas
- Put and keep a dog on a lead when asked to do so by an authorised officer
- Keep dogs out of certain areas
East Staffordshire Borough Council will issue on the spot fixed penalty notices of £75 to enforce the Dog Control Orders. Failure to pay the fine within fourteen days of issue may lead to prosecution and a criminal conviction.
Certain types of dogs are prohibited. The prohibited dog types include Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brazilieros.
Your dog must be kept under control in a public place. Any dog which is deemed to be dangerously out of control in a public place could mean the owner ends up with a fine or prison sentence or in some cases both and the dog may be at risk of being destroyed.
What is dangerously out of control?
Any dog which injures a person or behaves in a way that makes a person feel that it might injure them. This applies even if it is in the dog owners own home or garden.
A court could also judge that your dog is dangerously out of control if:
It injures another person’s animal and/or the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop the dog attacking their animal
Anyone that has a dog that is not kept under control or is dangerously out of control should be reported to the police.
Anybody found guilty of having a dog that is out of control may face a fine of up to £1000 and/or imprisonment. A court can also rule that a person is not allowed to own a dog in the future.
Further information about out of control dogs is covered in section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Further information on these issues can be obtained from DEFRA.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires dog owners to ensure that the welfare needs of their dogs are met. These include the need:
- For a suitable home and environment
- For a suitable and healthy diet
- To exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- To be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable)
- To be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease
- The Act increases and introduces new penalties to tackle cruelty, neglect, mutilation, tail docking and animal fighting.
The act has increased the minimum age at which a person can buy an animal to 16 years old. It prohibits giving animals as prizes to unaccompanied children under 16 years old.
Anyone who is cruel to an animal, or does not provide for its welfare needs, may be banned from owning animals, fined up to £20,000 and/or sent to prison.