There has been a lot in the news and media in relation to dangerous dogs recently but what many people and dog owners do not realise is that their dog can be classed as ‘dangerous’ even if they don’t cause an injury. They can face being charged with an offence contrary to the dangerous dogs act 1991 and end up in a criminal court. There has also been a recent change to the Dangerous Dogs Act which now creates an offence where an owner’s dog injures a person in a private place and therefore includes people’s houses and gardens.
There are several offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act for instance if your dog didn’t cause an injury but acted in a manner whereby a person fears that injury would be caused to them then and owner may be charged with an offence. This offence can result in the owner receiving a court fine, a community order or even up to a 6 month prison sentence. The offence would be even more serious if the dog did cause an injury and the owner could receive up to 2 years in prison. Ancillary orders can also be made and these include disqualification from having custody of a dog or an order that the dog must be muzzled whilst out in public. The court may also make a destruction order in respect of the dog. In reaching a decision in relation to an order the court must take in to account the incident and what degree of harm was caused by the dogs behaviour, past behaviour and the owner’s character so if the owner is a fit and proper person to look after the dog.
When considering whether to make a destruction order the court must take into account representations from the owner these representations can include instructing an independent expert to comment on the behaviour of the dog and whether in fact the dog Is a danger to the public and whether it is necessary for a destruction order to be made. Dangerous dog cases can be complex ones. Here at Emery Johnson Astills we have dealt with many dangerous dogs cases successfully and instruct experienced experts where necessary.
If you require any assistance in relation to a dangerous dogs matter then please do not hesitate to contact our Loughborough office on 01509 610312 or our Leicester office on 0116 255 4855.