Dangerous Dogs: A Reminder of the Law
Very sadly, recent media reports have detailed a shocking case in which a woman from Widnes died having been attacked by two dogs. Those keeping dogs may not feel that they need to pay attention to the law in this area, but an awareness of it can go hand in hand with conscientious ownership.
When is a dog deemed to be ‘dangerous’?
The relevant law is contained in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Put simply, the definition applies where:-
- There are grounds for a reasonable apprehension that the dog will injure a person or assistance dog
An actual attack does not need to take place for the ‘reasonable apprehension’ to be established. If it does, an aggravated offence has been committed, as dealt with below.
s.3 (1) of the Act states that if a dog is dangerously out of control in any place, the owner- or person in charge of it at the time- may be guilty of an offence.
The offence becomes aggravated if the dog injures any person or assistance dog whilst out of control.
Sentencing is very much fact-specific. Broadly, cases can be categorised as follows:-
- No injury sustained: will be heard by Magistrates, which means a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment;
- Injury occurs: likely to be dealt with in the Crown Court, with a maximum sentence of four years’ imprisonment. If a death occurs, the maximum sentence increases greatly to 14 years’ imprisonment.
The law assumes that the dog in question will be destroyed if a person is convicted under s.3, unless the Court is satisfied that the animal ‘does not constitute a danger to public safety.’
This article provides only an overview and as stated, each case will differ.
If you are facing charges or have been charged with a dangerous dog offence, call 0113 284 5000.