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Dangerous dogs

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

The Humble Petition of Deborah Bowler,


That the Petitioner believes that attacks by dogs made on all other animals should be made illegal and that owners should be legally responsible for their dogs’ actions.

Wherefore your Petitioner prays that your Honourable House shall urge the Government to consider legislating to make owners accountable for their dogs’ actions in the case of attacks on other animals.

And your Petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Jacob Rees-Mogg, Official Report, 12 June 2012; Vol. 546, c. 296 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

The Government’s consultation on a package of proposals for tackling irresponsible ownership of dogs closed on 15 June 2012. Over 23,000 responses were received. The Government are currently considering these responses. We will publish a summary of the responses and make a decision about our proposals in due course.

In the meantime, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes it an offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place or a place it has no right to be. A dog is regarded to be “dangerously out of control” on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person, whether or not it actually does so. The Dogs Act 1871 also provides remedies, including destruction orders, in a wide range of circumstances where a dog is not kept under proper control. Such situations could therefore include instances where a dog attacks another animal.

In addition, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal. A person could therefore be prosecuted if their dog causes injury to another animal.

Under civil law it is an offence if a dog owner deliberately sends a dog on to another person’s land in pursuit of game. Under civil law a dog owner is likely to be liable if a dog owner enters land and causes damage which it is in the nature of a dog to commit. It is also an offence for a dog to be at large in a field of sheep. Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 the owner and anyone else under whose control the dog is at the time will be guilty of an offence if it worried livestock on agricultural land. Under the Animals Act 1971 anyone who is the keeper of a dog that causes damage by killing or injuring livestock is liable for the damage caused.