Animal Law – Can My Dog Be Destroyed If It Bites Someone Once?

It is a common misconception that every dog is allowed “one free bite”. Many people believe that the first time their dog bites someone it will be let off with a warning, and that the dog will not be seized and destroyed unless it goes on to bite someone a second time. The criminal offence – dangerous dogs in public places Criminal offences relating to dogs which bite or attack people are set out in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. People often associate this legislation with specific breed s of particularly violent and aggressive dog, such as pit bull terriers, but in fact the majority of the provisions of this Act apply to every dog in England and Wales, regardless of its breed or size. Section 3 of the Act creates the criminal offence of “allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place” and whilst this may sound like it would only apply in extreme cases, because of the definition which judges have applied to the word dangerous, a dog is considered to be “dangerously out of control” wherever there is reasonable fear that the dog might injure someone. A dog can be considered dangerous even if it has never bit someone and because there is a presumption that wherever a dog does injure someone it is dangerously out of control and should be destroyed. If the owner is found guilty, the court may sentence him to imprisonment although this is extremely rare. In most cases the court will fine the owner and order him to pay compensation to anyone who was injured by the dog. What about incidents where occur on private land? As well as applying to dogs in public places, such as a park or street, the dog biting laws set out by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 also applies to places which are not public but where the dog is not permitted to be. This means, for example, that if your dog escapes into a neighbour’s garden and bites someone then you could be found guilty of an offence and the dog could be destroyed. Other than the exception outlined above, where a dangerous dog is on private land it is not covered by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and no criminal offence is committed. However, if someone is injured or threatened by a dog on the dog owner’s private property it may still be possible for them to bring civil proceedings against a dog owner in their local magistrates court under the Dogs Act 1871. If the complainant is able to show that the dog is dangerous and has not been kept properly under control, the court may order its destruction or may order the owner to take additional steps to control the dog. This type of case is different from a case under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in that: • Other than in exceptional circumstances the court will not consider a dog to be dangerous because of a single incident of misbehaviour • There is no presumption that a dog should be destroyed • The court cannot fine or punish the owner of the dog • The court cannot award compensation (although a person who is injured might still be able to make a claim for negligence or breach of occupier’s duty in the County Court) Isn’t it just enough to put up a “Beware of the Dog” sign? Occupiers of property have a duty to warn visitors and trespassers about dangers which are present on the land, and this includes dogs which may bite or attack. Whilst in some circumstances a warning sign might help a landowner to avoid paying out compensation for negligence or breach of occupier’s duty, it is unlikely to be something which the court will take into account when considering the fate of the dog. If a dog is allowed to roam free on your property and will bite anyone who approaches then it is likely that a bench of magistrates will consider it to be dangerous and out of control under the Dogs Act 1871 and will order its destruction regardless of whether you have warned visitors. On Law on the Web you can find free legal advice on all domains of law, even some you didn’t know existed. We can help you access your legal rights through jargon-free pro bono legal information. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Luke_Culverwell

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Animal Law – Can My Dog Be Destroyed If It Bites Someone Once?

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