What the law says
If someone is attacked by a dog or are in fear of being attacked, and the person in charge had no proper control of it then the dog could be said to be dangerous and out of control.
So if your dog runs up to someone, you cannot recall it, and it jumps up them, barks or growls etc and that person is worried (they may be frightened of dogs). Or it runs up towards their dog on a lead and they are worried it may attack their dog, then the offence is committed. Just shouting “It’s friendly!” because you cannot recall it does not work as if the third party is worried, the offence is absolute.
The incident can be reported to the police who will carry out an investigation. The courts have the power to order that the dog is kept under proper control or destroyed.
If a dog poses an immediate threat to the safety of the public, the police or other responsible person (e.g. vet/local authority) can order that the dog be lawfully destroyed. It is a criminal offence for the person in charge of the dog to allow it to be 'dangerously out of control' anywhere in England and Wales whether or not a public place. (Yes! Even in your own home!)
The following list explains when a dog may be considered dangerously out of control-
The court could also decide that a dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply-
If the dog has been established as dangerously out of control but does not pose an immediate threat to the public etc., the police and local authorities now have the power to act early to prevent dog attacks before they occur. These measures could include; attending dog training classes, repairing fencing to their property to prevent the dog escaping or requiring the dog to be muzzled when out in public.
See below for examples of orders the police can enforce.
Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO ) propose to deal with a particular nuisance in a particular area that is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life for those in the local community. It can prohibit certain things or require specific things to be done.
An example of when a PSPO may be issued could be to help keep dogs under control within a public place such as a park. It may require that the dog is kept on a lead at all times and/or the dog is only allowed in certain areas.
When deciding whether an order should be issued, the local authority must consider two things:
It can be made to apply to all people, or limited only to certain people and can be restricted to specific times. A PSPO can last no longer than 3 years but can be renewed if necessary. Failure to comply with the order can result in a fine or a fixed penalty notice.
A Community Protection Notice (CPN ) is aimed to prevent unreasonable behaviour that is having a negative impact on the local community's quality of life. Any person aged 16 years or over can be issued with a notice, whether it is an individual or a business, and it will require the behaviour to stop and if necessary reasonable steps to be taken to ensure it is not repeated in the future.
Below are examples of when a CPN may be issued;
Police officers, local authorities and PCSOs can issue CPNs but before doing so they must consider two things;
The individual must be given a written warning beforehand stating that if the behaviour doesn't cease, the notice will be issued