Dangerous Dogs Act – Frequently Asked Questions

Hello and welcome to our frequently asked questions page on dangerous dogs act dot com.

Q: Can you offer legal assistance with my dog related legal question or case?

A: No. If you need legal help, please consult a legal professional.

Q: Can you tell me if dog breed “X” is dangerous?

A: All dogs have teeth and can bite, thereby having the potential to cause serious injury.

A large dog generally can cause more severe injuries due to its size and strength. Dog breed has very little do with capacity to cause injury, dog training and socialisation is far more important.

Q: Is my dog dangerous?

A: It is impossible to answer questions such as this over the internet.

If you have a dog that you feel may be dangerous and are seeking advice, then consult a veterinary surgeon who can assess your dog for a small fee.

The police can also test a dogs behaviour and level of aggression, although this is usually only carried out as part of a legal prosecution, or an assessment as to whether a dog should be euthanised or returned to its owners. This last option is not something that a responsible dog owner should ever have to experience – if in doubt, go to a vet ASAP.

Q: You say that articles about dangerous dogs in the media are frequently inaccurate, emotive and misleading, but surely the media is more likely to have accurate and well researched information? How can I trust what you say?

A: Media articles about dog attacks are often poorly researched “filler” content.

This type of content is used because it has “human interest” qualities, or perhaps just that there are few real news items available that day. Many of these articles are aimed squarely at gaining an emotional reaction and not at providing any accurate information.

Although this website is basically a one man operation, I am happy to quote and attribute my sources. This means that if you doubt what I say you can look it up yourself and check my accuracy. Quoting sources is standard academic practice. Sadly, quoting sources is something rarely carried out in the British media today, but there are some exceptions.

On this basis, I ask you to judge the validity of a given article for yourself.

Q: Why are you against the Dangerous Dogs Act?

A: The Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) was a very poor piece of legislation, produced in a hurry, in response to media generated hysteria by a government that wanted to be seen to be “doing something”.

The U.K. already had legislation to cover dogs that were dangerously out of control and laws relating to dog fighting and use of weapons in assaults etc. A simple directive to police forces to enforce these laws would have resulted in more cases before the courts and a directive to judges as to appropriate sentencing would have ensured penalties were commensurate to the crime. This would have served to ensure the public was protected from anti-social owners and their poorly socialised and/or attack trained dogs. The problem is that this kind of action does not grab headlines or generate quotable sound-bites.

The fact that the law was poorly drafted and thought through can be seen by the volume of amendments and guidance instructions it has since generated. For example, the fundamental question of how do police identify a “pitbull”?

Q: What changes to the law would you like to see regarding dangerous dogs?

A: The response to this question is the central point of this website. There are several aspects to answering this.

In the short term:

  • Repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act
  • An end to breed specific legislation
  • The return of the Dog Licence in conjunction with micro-chipping

In the long term:

The use of an extensive period of consultation with legal professionals, veterinary and dog training specialists and other relevant parties such as the R.S.P.C.A.

The aim of this consultation should firstly be to decide if new dog legislation is required at all. If it is decided that such legislation is required, then it should be drafted in a sensible and balanced fashion that is likely to be enforceable by an already over stretched police force and legal system. For example, dog licensing establishes who is the legal owner of a dog and could be used to make them legally responsible for its actions. The production of a police accessible database makes the identification of an illegally held dog simple by means of a RFID chip scanner – no chip = illegal dog.

Clearly the public must be protected from irresponsible dog owners and thugs using attack trained dogs to support their antisocial and often illegal activities. There must however be a balance such as to enable responsible owners to own whatever type of dog they choose.