Posted 9th Mar 2018
A nation of dog lovers, there are around 8.5 million dogs in the UK
However, what do you do if your pet isn't quite as well behaved as other canines? Do you know where you stand with regards to your pet and the law? This guide, from Sarah Garner, solicitor from DAS Law, tells you all you need to know:
If my dog bites someone or another dog, can I be sued or be forced to put my dog to sleep?
Every dog owner has a duty of care to ensure their animal is kept under control. If it could be argued that the dog has caused an injury due to being out of control, the owner could potentially face a civil action.
If the dog is known to bite others or acts in a certain way when it's been startled, it is down to the owner to make sure these acts are avoided. A dog can be deemed out of control whilst it remains on the lead too. As well as civil actions, if it's a matter that is referred to the Magistrates Court and they consider the animal to be dangerously out of control, a destruction order can be made to put the dog down.
Is it a legal requirement for a dog to wear a collar on walks?
In short, the answer will be 'yes'. The Control of Dogs Order 1992 says that any dog in a public place needs to wear a collar with a tag which has the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 means it is considered a criminal offence for a dog to be on a public road without being on the lead, and if such an offence is committed, you can be fined £200.
However, certain dogs will be exempt from wearing a collar with a tag; these include registered Guide Dogs, emergency rescue dogs and dogs that are part of the Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise of the Police.
Can I be prosecuted if I don't clear up after my dog during walks?
A failure to clean up after your dog could result in an on-the-spot fine. The amount varies from council to council and is typically £50 but could reach £80. Many local authorities have their own rules and can insist on dog owners carrying poop scoops or doggie bags.
A refusal to pay the fine could lead to you being taken to court and fined up to £1,000. These fines do not apply to those who are registered blind or have an assistance dog.
I can't enjoy my garden because of a neighbour's dog, is there anything I can do?
It may be possible to argue that a neighbour's dog amounts to a nuisance if it produces excessive noise, or if your neighbour fails to clean up after the dog creates noxious smells or attracts an excessive amount of flies. However, although this could be annoying, it needs to be viewed as a substantial interference with your ability to enjoy your property before it's deemed a nuisance.
Is it illegal to use sprays or deterrents to keep other people's pets out of my garden?
There is a risk to any person who uses sprays or deterrents to keep animals out of their garden. If the spray or deterrent is found to cause harm or unnecessary suffering to the animal, you could be held accountable for a criminal offence against animal welfare, which could see you prosecuted.
You should give serious consideration to using any potential spray or deterrent and make sure they are sold legally, without causing harm or suffering to the animal.