Dog Law changes and how this effects YOU, Dog Walking and Century Pet Care

Do you know that if a complaint is made about your dog to the council or police, you, as the owners (and Century Pet Care if we are dog walking for you) could be ordered to do any or all of the following under the new dog laws:

Muzzle the dog or require it to be on a lead in public
Attend dog training classes
Require the dog to be microchipped and/or neutered
Repair fencing to prevent the dog leaving the property
Exclusion from areas
Restrict number of dogs walked by one person
Although not all of our dogs are going to ‘attack’ other animals or humans, the law is aimed at dealing with ALL dog-related incidents, so the Police and Local Authorities now have new powers:

Community Protection Notice
What is it? Low-level notice issued to stop anti-social behaviour

Who can issue it? Police officers, Police Community Support Officers, Local authority officers, Registered social landlords

What is the test? Behaviour has to be having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, be persistent or continuing in nature be unreasonable

Who can be issued with a CPN? An individual over the age of 16

Requirements before issuing a CPN? Issue a written warning giving reasonable time for the behaviour to stop

What happens upon breach? Officers can choose to issue a FPN (£100) or bring a prosecution for breach Breach is a criminal offence – £2500 fine / £20,000 fine for bodies

Example for CPN Test: In a residential street a person has two large dogs who persistently fails to control them, allowing the dogs to run loose on the estate. Neighbours are concerned at the distress and threat to safety of their cats. The neighbours do not think the chasing is playful (they have video footage) and fear the dogs will seriously injure or kill one or more cats soon. As a consequence, owners are keeping their cats indoors as much as possible. A verbal warning was issued to the dogs’ owner after complaints from several of the neighbours but their failure to control the dogs has continued. The situation meets the CPN threshold and provides the swiftest and most cost effective solution to the circumstances of this case (rather than making a complaint to the Magistrates Court, for example under the Dogs Act 1871).

There are also further powers now available to the Police and Local Authorities:

Injunctions
What is it? For higher level incidents eg intimidation, attacks on incidents involving other animals

What is the test? An individual has engaged or threatens to engage in anti-social behaviour, meaning: Conduct that has caused or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person. Conduct that has caused or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person.

Who can be issued with one? An individual over the age of 10

Criminal Behaviour Order
What is it? Serious and continuing ASB with dogs. For example where dogs are used to intimidate people

What is the test? Court must be satisfied that the individual has engaged in behaviour that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress AND that making the order will help prevent anti-social behaviour

Who can be issued with one? Anyone convicted of a criminal offence

Public Spaces Protection Orders
Purpose: An order to restrict persistent anti-social behaviour in a public space**

Test? Activities carried out in a public place are having, have had or will have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality

**This includes cleaning up your dogs mess, which covers pathways, communal grassy areas and private property. You can be given an on-the-spot fine if you don’t clean up after your dog. It’s often £50 and can be as much as £80. If you refuse to pay the fine, you can be taken to court and fined up to £1,000

These new laws are in addition to the law changes that were brought in last year (2014). It was illegal for dogs to be ‘dangerously out of control in a public place’. The existing law from 1991, until recently, only covered incidents on public property and private property was excluded. The main change was that it covered incidents that happen on private property – including your own garden! This applies whether or not the person has been invited.

The 1991 Dangerous Dog Act applies to you if own a large or small breed dog and however placid and friendly your dog is. The Act states it is illegal for any dog to be dangerously out of control or to attack or bite someone. The legislation also makes it an offence if a person feels threatened that a dog may bite them.

What can out of control mean?

Jumping up
Being boisterous and excited
Uninvited interactions that cause anxiety and concerns
Not paying attention to the owner
Unreliable recall
Being off lead in a public place without adequate supervision
Behaving in such a way that someone feels intimidated or threatened**

** If your dog acts in a manner that a visitor views as intimidating, even if your dog is being friendly, you could be liable for prosecution. Even in your garden the law states your dog should be supervised at all times. If your dog is running free and nips or bites someone you could be imprisoned and your dog could be euthanised and the maximum prison sentences have been extended to:

14 years, from 2 years, for a fatal dog attack
5 years, from 2 years, for injury
3 years for an attack on an assistance dog
Questions you may ask:

What if my dog is protecting me from an intruder?
The law provides a defence if your dog attacks an intruder in your own home so this may be a comfort to many dog owners. However, rather confusingly, if your dog attacks an intruder in your garden this will be an offence which could land you in court.

Note: There is a clause in the revised DDA which is “If the incident takes place in, or partly in, a building which is a dwelling or forces accommodation, then if the victim is a trespasser this is regarded as a Householder Case and the Defendant will have a defence.”

What if my dog is attacked by another dog? Is that now an offence?
Unfortunately not, The PDSA campaigned for attacks on other animals to be included in the legislation but the recommendation was not taken up. If your dog is attacked by another dog, the incident should still be reported to the police immediately. If you suffer emotional issues from witnessing the attack, this could result in possible further action

This all sounds very scary but the good news is most of us should never be affected and if you’re at all worried there are some precautionary measures you can take in your home:

Protect postal workers and utility workers, maybe have an outdoor letterbox
Know your dog better than anyone else
Introduce a door bell/knock knock routine
Ensure your garden is secure, no gaps in fencing
Train your dog well to recall, consult a behaviourist and/or dog trainer if needed
And outdoors there are some easy preventative measures too:

Protect your dog from unwanted attention
Teach reactive dogs to wear a muzzle
Teach your dogs to be calm
Be aware that a professional dog walker is considered the ‘keeper’ of the dog and is legally responsible when out with your dog so should have relevant liability insurance and be a reputable company like Century Pet Care
Do not let children walk your dog
That said, We are all hugely responsible and I’m sure no one will come into contact with any of these laws and penalties as long as we take some simple precautions, so please don’t worry, just be mindful of yourself and others when out dog walking with your furry friends.

Notice: This is purely Century Pet care Ltd’s interpretation of the Laws and Legislation as of June ‘15. Please refer to the Official documents available to you at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/65/contents and https://www.gov.uk/control-dog-public/overview and the PDSA website.

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