Dangerous Dog Law
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Dangerous Dog Law

Dangerous dog law in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the first Dangerous Dogs Act was created in 1991 to address problems that existing laws regarding dogs and dog owners were deemed unable to combat. The dangerous dog law of 1991 was rapidly produced after a series of dog attacks and needed to be adjusted a few years later. In 1997, the DDA Amendment Bill was successfully passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords and received Royal Assent. This meant that the dangerous dog law of 1991 changed in several different ways in June 1997.

Dangerous dog law of 1991

The dangerous dog law of 1991 consisted of tow main sections. According to Section 1, owners of Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brazilieros, Japanese Tosas and Pit bull terriers had to adhere to a series of strict requirements. Two of these requirements were keeping the dog muzzled in public places and having the dog insured. These dog owners also had to have their dogs neutered by the end of November 1991, since the aim of the law was to make these four breeds extinct in the UK. Simultaneously, the importation of these four breeds to the U.K. was made illegal and this is still the case, even after the 1997 changes. If you owned one of these four breeds, you could not sell nor give it away without breaking the dangerous dog law. 
If you instead agreed to have your dog euthanized, you would receive a token of compensation from the government according to the 1991 dangerous dog law.

The other main section of the dangerous dog law of 1991 (Section 3) was not limited to four breeds; it affected all dogs in the United Kingdom regardless of breed. If your dog was dangerously out of control in a public space, this was considered a criminal offence according to Section 3 and you could be punished.

If you were convicted under the 1991 dangerous dog law, you could be sentenced to up to six months in prison. The fines were limited to £5000. You would of course also receive a criminal record and your dog would be euthanized.  

Dangerous dog law and the 1991 DDA Amendment Bill

As mentioned above, the 1991 dangerous dog law has today been modified by the 1997 DDA Amendment Bill. One of the most important changes is that if a dog was born before 1991, and the dog owner had a good reason for not registering it, the dog owner may not be forced to give up the dog and have it euthanized. Instead, a dog owner charged under section 1 may be allowed by the court to register the dog, as long as the dog is not a general danger. There is however still a presumption in favour of euthanizing the dog.

If a dog owner is charger under section 3, the court can decide to spare the dogs life, provided that it is not considered a general danger to the public. Emphasis is however still on destruction of the dog.

Disclaimer: This text is meant as an introduction only and might contain errors. Always refer to a lawyer in your area to get the facts in your particular case.

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