Nuisance Dogs – The Law Is Now Tougher
by Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc
I used to love walking and cycling. But in recent years the number of aggressive dogs around has made both activities far less enjoyable. Even when dogs don’t actually bite it can be alarming when they bark and growl and adopt threatening poses.
Sadly, many dog owners have become more aggressive too. Too many sneer at the fears of other pedestrians. And too many dog owners allow their dogs to roam in other people’s gardens. (We had to spend several thousand pounds putting up a fence we didn’t want – solely to keep out dogs belonging to neighbours and dog-walkers.)
Now, at last, the law is on the side of the pedestrian and house owner.
According to the Government’s own website it is against the law to let a dog become dangerously out of control in a public place or in a private place where the dog shouldn’t be (such as a neighbour’s garden). This law applies to all dogs.
And a dog is considered to be dangerously out of control if it injures someone or (and this is the important bit) it makes someone worried that it might injure them.
The Government also makes it clear that a court could also decide that a dog was dangerously out of control if it injured someone’s animal or if the owner of an animal thought they could be injured if they tried to stop a dog attacking their animal.
The penalties for having an out of control dog are severe.
A dog owner can be fined up to £5,000 and/or sent to prison for up to six months. They may also be banned from owning a dog in the future.
If a dog injures someone, the owner of the dog can be sent to prison for up to two years and/or fined.
And the term of imprisonment goes up to five years if a dog owner deliberately uses their dog to injure someone.
Remember: the important point is if a dog worries you, and you think it might injure you, then the dog is out of control and the owner may be sent to prison and heavily fined.
(Sadly, not all police officers seem aware of the law relating to dogs. Ignorant policemen should be referred to gov.uk/control-dog-public/overview).
Copyright Vernon Coleman