«Dangerous Dogs Law Guidance for Enforcers Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Nobel House 17 Smith Square London SW1P 3JR Telephone: ...»
http://www.defra.gov.uk/Environment/localenv/legislation/cnea/dogcontrol-orders.pdf Many local authorities have chosen to adopt the powers under Ss55-67 and if used sparingly and properly enforced, DCOs can be used to effectively tackle minor offences, which may cause a nuisance within communities. However, local authorities should ensure effective wide-ranging consultation prior to the use of such orders and without adequate enforcement the responsible dog owning majority may be penalised without actually tackling the minority causing the problems.
It should also be noted that many local authorities who have effectively tackled anti-social behaviour with dogs, have done so without the need to adopt DCOs.
Particularly with minor anti-social issues with dogs, it is important that local authorities consider what education/ information can be made available to the public to help reduce the incidents of anti-social behaviour.
Both the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and Dogs Act 1871 are useful tools for tackling the more serious problems (see Annex 1). Local authorities should ensure that the relevant officers are fully authorised and trained in the use of these pieces of legislation and also in practical skills in dog behaviour and handling. It may be worth liaising with the local police service and other partners to see what opportunities there are for such officers to attend DLO and animal welfare training courses.
Local authority housing providers and other landlords can play an important role in addressing anti-social behaviour in areas where they have jurisdiction. There are preventative steps that can be taken, including having a clear and positive policy towards dogs with sanctions and consequences if a tenant fails to adhere. A willingness by officers to enforce this policy is essential in making any tenancy agreement effective.
This approach can resolve/successfully tackle some of the minor anti-social issues such as fouling, barking or frequent straying by dogs.
To respond to an offence that may be deemed a “breach of the peace”8 (e.g. a dog acting aggressively and/or owner not in control, etc), an application for a control order under the Dogs Act 1871 (see Appendix 1) can be sought via a Magistrates’ Court.
It may also be possible to use more familiar powers with Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) particularly with those who are using their dogs in an intimidating or threatening fashion. However, these require greater multi-agency working (namely the police) and therefore can be more resource intensive.
It is hoped that with a good working relationship between the police, local authorities and other
bodies with defined responsibilities and possibly setting up of service level agreements that:
• Serious incidents involving dogs and owners who commit criminal offences will be investigated by the police, and
• Minor incidents and stray dogs can be dealt with by local authorities (and where appropriate housing providers).
There are currently some very good examples of multi-agency approach in operation and these schemes should be closely examined to see whether this best practice can be adopted for other local authority/ policing areas.
Currently there are initiatives in the following Authorities:
Borough Action for Responsible K9s (BARK) London’s first multi-agency partnership forum, BARK was officially launched in September 2007 to tackle the irresponsible ownership of dogs in the borough of Brent.
The group formed of animal welfare officers from Brent Council, the Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhood team officers, the Mayhew Animal Home and the RSPCA, was formed following the increased collaboration between the partners on dog-related incidents in the local area over the previous 12-months.
The joint partnership is already working together with the aims of educating the community on dog welfare and responsible pet ownership, reducing the incidents where dogs are misused and investigating anti-social behaviour linked with the misuse of dogs. This is being done through a combination of each party using reassurance, intelligence, prevention and enforcement.
For further information: http://www.brent.gov.uk/eh.nsf/Animal%20welfare/LBB-60
8 Definition: The state that occurs when harm is done or likely to be done to a person or (in his presence) to his property, or when a person is in fear of being harmed through an assault, affray, or other disturbance. At common law, anyone may lawfully arrest a person for a breach of the peace committed in his presence, or when he reasonably believes that a person is about to commit or renew such a breach. (Oxford, Dictionary of Law, 2003)
8 Guidance to Enforcers
London Borough of Wandsworth – The Action Plan An incident in which two Pit Bull-type dogs attacked and killed a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in October 2007 was the catalyst for Wandsworth Council to bring together the work they had been doing on issues concerning dangerous dogs and anti-social behaviour, into one strategic document titled ‘The Action Plan’.
The Action Plan set out the Council’s current policy, legislative powers and procedures, together with action already being implemented, and proposals for further measures. Most importantly though it establishes each department’s and outside agency’s role in tackling particular aspects of dangerous dogs and anti-social behaviour with dogs.
The document was created in consultation with departments and members across the Council, including children services, housing department, youth offending team and dog wardening service.
The collaborative approach is reflected in the document.
For further information:
http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/Home/EnvironmentandTransport/Dogs/default.htm South Northampton District Council – dealing with dangerous dogs South Northampton District Council is a rural authority and has not had many dealings with ‘status’ dogs. However the Council has taken a proactive role in dealing with dogs that may be dangerous.
The Council responds to all complaints regarding dangerous dogs whether they concern a dog attacking another animal or a human. There is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Council and the police regarding this work (although the police retain lead responsibility for dealing with any prohibited types of dogs under the DDA and the more serious complaints).
However the proactive nature of this work by the Council aims to help educate dog owners to be responsible and thus prevent future incidents.
In February 2007 the Council obtained a control order (under the Dogs Act 1871) for a dog which was not kept under proper control. The dog (a retriever) had escaped from its property and attacked a Jack Russell that was being walked nearby. The Jack Russell received extensive injuries.
For further information: http://www.southnorthants.gov.uk/
Multi-Agency Approach The problems caused by irresponsible dog ownership and control cannot be resolved by either the police service, local authorities or indeed housing providers working independently and it is therefore imperative that all agencies work together to make areas safer for the common good.
Firstly both the police and local authorities must be aware of their statutory obligations under current legislation.
There has recently been a change in the legislation concerning responsibilities for stray dogs.
This has been transferred solely to local authorities.This document seeks to clarify some of the issues and responsibilities.
With the recent introduction of neighbourhood policing nationwide and the concerns of the community raising police awareness of anti-social behaviour of youths with dogs and minor dog-related incidents, this area can only be tackled by a multi-agency approach. A good working relationship with the local authority officers is essential as is an agreed understanding of areas of responsibility for all stakeholders.
The best forum to determine and debate a good statement of understanding is through the local policing partnership schemes, but to make this work coherently there has to be a good understanding of each other’s responsibilities and willingness on both sides to co-operate on middle ground. For example, the police deal with the most serious offences and the local authority to deal with minor incidents.
A joint approach where local authorities, police and other agencies work closely together to address community concerns involving anti-social behaviour with dogs is a useful tool to prevent incidents with dogs escalating.
As with any multi-agency approach, it is important that the details of successful prosecutions under the Dangerous Dogs Acts, control orders made under the Dogs Act 1871 and Anti-social Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) or orders are known to all parties. Ideally this information could be accessed on a central database.
The Main Acts Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended 1997) The DDA prohibits certain types of dogs and allowing a dog of any type to be dangerously out of control in a public place or a private place where it is not allowed to be. The law also provides for such dogs to be seized.
Offences (prohibited breeds or types)
• Section 1(1) sets out which types of dogs the prohibitions in the sub-sections apply to – namely Pit Bull Terriers (PBTs)9, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brazilieros.
• Section 1(2) prohibits the breeding, sale, exchange, advertising, or gift of any dog listed in section 1(1). It also prohibits such dogs from being in a public place without being muzzled and kept on a lead. Furthermore, it also prohibits the abandoning or allowing to stray of such dogs.
• Section 1(3) prohibits the ownership of any type listed under s1(1) unless it is exempted on the Index of Exempted Dogs as per s1(5).
Offences (any breed or type)
• Section 3(1) provides for the owner or the person in charge of a dog (at the time of the offence) to be guilty of an offence if they allow a dog of any breed to be ‘dangerously out of control10 in a public place11’. This offence is aggravated if the dog injures a person whilst out of control.
• Section 5(1) allows for a dog in a public place to be seized by a police constable or authorised12 officer of a local authority if it is of a type as set out in s1(1) or is of any type or breed that appears to be dangerously out of control at the time (as per s3(1)).
• Section 5(2) provides for a warrant to be sought for the seizure of dogs on private premises if they are evidence of any offence under the Act.
• Dogs may also be seized from private premises when a police constable is lawfully on the premises if they are evidence of an offence under s19 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1986 (PACE). For example, where a drugs warrant is executed and a PBT type dog is found on the premises.
• Statutory presumption – If a police officer alleges that a dog is a PBT type then it is assumed to be such a dog until the defence proves otherwise. It is good practice for police forces to have their own experts to ensure the seizing officer’s opinion is correct in order to save costs and benefit the welfare of the dog. For further advice on this please see above under ‘best practice’ for police.
9 For the determination of a dog as being ‘of the type known as a pit bull terrier’ see R v Crown Court at Knightsbridge ex p Dunne  4 All ER 491 10 See s10(3) for definition of ‘dangerously out of control’. Also the act of a dog causing injury to a person is itself conduct giving grounds for reasonable apprehension of injury, there is no requirement for the apprehension to precede the injury (Rafiq v DPP  161 JP 412 DC) 11 See s10(2) for definition of ‘public place’. It is taken to mean anywhere the public is allowed.
12 If the local authority has designated such an officer.
11 Annex 1
Dogs Act 1871 The strength of this piece of legislation is that, because it provides a civil remedy to which the civil standard of proof applies, proceedings can be taken even when a criminal offence has not been committed. Thus it provides a remedy in a wide range of circumstances for dangerous dogs. A particular advantage of the Act is that it applies everywhere, even in and around a private dwelling, which is why it is especially appropriate for action on behalf of people like postmen and women who are regularly at risk from dogs in front gardens.
• Section 2 provides for any Magistrates’ court to hear a complaint that a dog is dangerous13 and not kept under proper control14.
• A complaint must be made to the Magistrates’ court15.
• If the Magistrate is satisfied that the dog is dangerous, he or she may order that the dog be kept under proper control by the owner or destroyed.
Animal Welfare Act 2006 The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA) covers England and Wales and reforms the law relating to the protection of animals. It introduces several welfare related offences and the most significant are set out below.
• Section 4 creates offences of causing unnecessary suffering which in many ways is simply a replacement for s1(1)(a) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911. It creates two offences; firstly for an individual to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal by an act or failure to act, secondly whereby a person responsible16 for an animal permits or fails to take steps to prevent unnecessary suffering by an act or failure to act by another person.
• Section 8 creates a number of offences associated with animal fights, the organisation of animal fights and its associated activities, such as betting on and videoing17 animal fights.
• Section 9 creates a new offence and places a duty of care on those responsible for animals to ensure the welfare needs18 of an animal are met. It encompasses those who abandon animals, as by doing so they cannot be said to have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the animal’s needs have been met.