Emergencies, Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) and Strays
Many pet owners find themselves in difficult situations unexpectedly. Relationship breakdowns, poorly assessed dogs being rehomed, that terrifying knock on the door from the Police or your dog injuring someone.
The help on this page is for information only and does not replace qualified legal advice.
If you need legal advice, contact us and we will refer you to an experienced solicitor.
If you need advice, including assessments or expert witness reports for court, contact us.
My dog has bitten someone or tried to
The Police can NOT take your dog and put it to sleep, nor can they tell you to destroy your dog. Only a court can make an order for your dog to be destroyed. Do NOT sign a disclaimer if the police take your dog. Remember that if you own a dog that could be a Pit Bull, a cross or just looks like one, it can be seized regardless of behaviour.
If there is an incident, get us to assess your dog or find you someone ASAP. Once seized, your dog may behave very differently in kennels and you will not be able to visit. Don't wait for a court to judge you, get help now, keep the dog muzzled if it has bitten and show the court you have already started work on the problem.
You can still be charged if the behaviour of your dog meant a person genuinely thought they could be bitten, even if no contact was made. The law is injury, not just bite.
Debbie Connolly has acted as an expert witness in numerous cases in magistrates and crown courts.
WE ACT AS AN EXPERT WITNESS FOR CASES OF DOGS INVOLVED IN BITES OR OTHER DDA ISSUES ASK FOR ADVICE, OR SEE MORE INFORMATION HERE on our dedicated site. FREE initial advice and helpsheet Call for free initial advice 0208 1445799 or 0115 8883334
My dog has bitten another dog
As things stand, the DDA doesn't cover this sort of incident, but the original Dogs Act of 1871 which is civil may well be used to take you to court. You need to be honest and get help to stop it happening again. If a person ever gets in the way, or worse, a child, you will be in serious trouble. Ask for help to get your dog to behave better around other animals before it's too late. Remember, if a person is even threatened by your dog, you could face charges under the DDA. Your dog doesn't have to bite a human to break the law.
My dog is a Pit Bull
The only legally owned Pit Bull has been to court and added to the exempt register. This means neutered, microchipped, 3rd party insurance, never off lead and muzzled in public and if in a vehicle. Doing these things yourself does NOT legalise a dog. There is no licence, no DNA test, no other way to legally own one. It doesn't matter what you bought the dog as or what paperwork you have. If it looks like it is a Pit Bull, or cross of one and a trained Police expert says they believe it is, then the dog can be seized and you will have to go to court. The temperament of the dog and whether you are a fit and proper person to own it is all part of the court's decision making. You may get your dog back if you are a responsible owner.
You cannot buy, sell, exchange, give away or breed from any of the banned breeds on the DDA list.
I have been bitten by a dog or my dog has
Report it to the dog warden, there may be other victims. If the behaviour of the dog made you genuinely think you could be bitten, then the DDA can be used. Many Police officers tell victims that unless bitten, there is nothing that can be done. This is not true, section 3 covers when there is "reasonable apprehension" that a bite is likely. If the owner is in social housing, council house or renting privately, report to the landlord.
If you have been bitten, call the police. If your dog was hurt, try to get witness details, photos, something that can help you trace the other dog owner and at least get your vet bills paid.
I need to rehome my dog or cat
If you bought from a decent breeder, they should help regardless of the age of the animal. If from a rescue, they should want it back. You cannot rehome privately and offer the same level of future protection that a good rescue can. So don't rule them out because you fear a kennels or cattery. Far worse can happen no matter how lovely someone seems.
Not all rescues are reputable, check them out very carefully. Plan in advance, rescues aren't sitting with empty spaces.
Don't lie, you can't let your pet hurt a person or animal because you can't or won't get the help first. We do packages of behaviour help for people rehoming cats and dogs. You can buy the help for the new owner.
Stray dogs and cats
The responsibility for stray dogs is legally only with the council, NOT the RSPCA, Police or rescues. Only the council or their contracted stray pound kennels can hold a stray dog. A finder can keep a found dog if reported to the council, but instead of the 7 days the council hold dogs until they can dispose of them, a finder could get the dog reclaimed up to 28 days after.
Cats have no stray system, so lost or found need the help of local rescues and vets for scanning and rehoming.
Always get found pets scanned for a chip. Even if the pet seems in a state, it could have been stolen and dumped and still have a loving family looking for it.
The site Dog Lost is the best place to post lost and found dogs http://www.doglost.co.uk/
For lost and found cats we recommend Missing Pets Register http://www.nationalpetregister.org/