Press release

Dangerous dogs law changes cover attacks on private property

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Legal powers for the police to tackle irresponsible dog owners and improve public safety are among legislative changes being published today.

Read up-to-date information on dangerous dogs.

(This press release was updated on 9 May 2013 and has not been updated since)

Legal powers for the police to tackle irresponsible dog owners and improve public safety are among legislative changes being published in the draft Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Bill today.

The Government announced in February that it will extend the dangerous dogs legislation to make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including all private property.

Under Government plans, dog owners will no longer be immune from prosecution if their dog attacks a person in the home. This change in the law will give protection to the healthcare, postal and utility professionals who visit private properties for work.

The legislative changes being introduced today will extend the law to include all private property. It will mean that owners can be prosecuted if they fail to stop their dogs attacking someone on their own or someone else’s private property. If convicted, they could face an unlimited fine and/or up to two years in jail. However there will be no protection for trespassers such as burglars who are attacked by a householder’s dog.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said:

Out of control dogs are just as much a threat on private property as in public places. We are extending the law so that owners who allow their dogs to be dangerously out of control anywhere can be brought to justice.

Attacks on guide dogs and other assistance dogs will also be explicitly covered by dangerous dogs legislation for the first time, Lord De Mauley confirmed today.

Under the plans, the owner, or person in charge, of a dog that attacks an assistance dog can be prosecuted.

Lord de Mauley said:

The law must recognise the devastating effect that an attack on an assistance dog can have on its owner. In the past, assistance dogs have been harmed so badly by other dogs that their owners have been robbed of their independence and quality of life.

Legislative changes will make clear the court’s right to take into account the character of the owner as they take action to tackle irresponsible ownership. When a banned breed is identified, its owners can apply to have it exempted from destruction. In assessing this application, the court will consider the character of the person in charge of the banned breed, as well the temperament and past behaviour of the dog.

The Government is bringing in compulsory microchipping for all dogs from 6 April 2016 to help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities and promote responsible dog ownership by improving the traceability of dog and owner.

The changes to attacks on private property and to attacks on assistance dogs apply to England and Wales. The banned breed amendment will apply to the whole of Great Britain.