Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Do you know dog law?

You should probably know by now that compulsory microchipping comes into force tomorrow, 6th April 2016, in England, Scotland and Wales. After that date, all puppies must be microchipped and recorded on a microchip database by the time they are 8 weeks old. (We can board them once they're vaccinated, house-trained and at least 6 months old.)

For more information, see the government's official information Get your dog microchipped. Also useful is the site Chip It, Check it! and Petlog's Compulsory Microchipping - FAQs

Did you also know that there were Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act that came into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. This Advice for Owners states:
Section 3 of the Act applies to every single dog owner in England and Wales. Under this section, it is a criminal offence for the person in charge of the dog to allow it to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place.

A dog doesn't have to bite to be deemed dangerous in the eyes of the law.

Generally if a dog bites a person, it will be presumed to have been ‘dangerously out of control’, however even if the dog does not bite, but gives the person grounds to feel that the dog may injure them, the law still applies.

Not many dog owners are aware of this, and it is important to hold that thought when looking at the changes.
Download this advice sheet (PDF-29KB)

It is a criminal offence (for the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog) to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place, a place where it is not permitted to be, and some other areas. A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds for reasonable apprehension that it may do so. Something as simple as your dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could lead to a complaint, so ensure that your dog is under control at all times.

See this government advice on Controlling your dog in public which tells us:
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.
Another part of those recent changes was that the Act now also covers incidents on private property in addition to public spaces, so there's now a need to manage dogs when you answer the door and ensure they aren't able to harm someone who comes into your garden. We always do the former, usually isolating any dogs we have boarding here either behind a kiddy gate or in a separate room before we answer the door to callers. We also supervise time in the garden.

The licencing officer at New Forest District Council advised us strongly to carry out all dog walks on lead, no matter what owners want. And in light of the wording of this law, you can see exactly why they issue this caution. Even the best behaved dogs might not obey relative strangers (us) and it's much harder for a dog to be accused of any menace when it's on the lead. So we do all walks on lead, not to deprive them of fun, but for your dog's safety and protection.

There's more information on these and other aspects of dog law in:

Do you know dog law? from The Kennel Club (PDF)

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