The law pervades everything we do. Most of the time it improves our way of life by controlling our actions, and the actions of others. Other times the law is a convoluted, bloated and badly constructed waste of time. Dog law is currently in a bit of a mess, but is being reviewed in the shape of the Dog Control Bill. While still being read in parliament, it isn’t expected to need many reforms to become law.
The Dog Control Bill is set to replace the Dogs Act 1871, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1997. The proponent of the new law, Lord Redesdale, said the dangerous dogs act was “often cited as one of the worst pieces of legislation to have been taken through parliament for a very long time.”
Currently, there are several other pieces of legislation that covers dog law in detail. Much of the contents have no real-life value to the average dog owner, but there are a few points worth taking note of, especially if you’re a new owner. Many puppy sessions cover the basics of dog law, but here is an overview just in case.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992 says that all dogs on the highway, or in a public place wear a collar and have an identity tag which shows the owner’s name and address. This dog law is easy to comply with. Every dog needs a collar in order to attach a lead so it’s a matter of a moment to attach a proper ID tag. Many pet shops and key cutting stores can provide one in a couple of minutes.
Section 27 of the Road Traffic Act 1998 states that: “A person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence. In other words, keep your dog on a lead when on a public road. If you lead them on all roads, you don’t have to worry about what is a “designated” road, and what isn’t.
The Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992 state that a local authority must appoint an officer for dealing with stray dogs found in their area. This is normally a dog warden and can be contacted through the council. An owner wishing to reclaim a dog which has strayed, can only do so if he or she pays the authority’s expenses incurred by detaining the dog, together with a fine.
While a warden can be viewed negatively, they can also be useful. By removing your escaped animal from the roads, they are protecting them, and you from further problems. Anyone who has owned a dog before knows how much trouble a dog can get themselves into when left to their own devices.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is the most notorious dog law and applies to all dogs, not just so-called “fighting dogs.” This particular Act applies to any dog deemed to be dangerously out of control in a public place. The penalty for having such a dog is either destruction of the dog or the owner may be disqualified from owning a dog for any time the court sees fit.