I have mentioned before that I have been given the opportunity to work with Cooper&Co Solicitors as a Assistant Organiser with Trevor Cooper (interviewed him at Crufts earlier this year for this website). It’s an amazing opportunity to get first hand experience of current legislation (Most notably the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006) and proposed changes that are coming in the future. Are these changes good or bad? Time will tell, but there is one thing I know for sure – it will effect every potential dog owner whether it’s restrictions in public places or compulsory microchipping that will come into place on April 6th 2016 (Wales a year earlier).
As I travel around the country we will do a range of talks, from casual owner dog law talks that may be more suited for dog clubs, training groups or any dog owner. Then there’s the professional talks, in those talks you’re more likely to find people from all types of industries from Police, charities, dog wardens, councils and all types of dog trainers and behaviourists.
Some of the information is absolutely vital for them to learn in order for them to do their jobs effectively.
This is what they state on their website that the talks will include;
“Doglaw: What every responsible dog owner needs to know
Presented by Solicitor Trevor Cooper, this seminar is a wide ranging mix of legal issues that are important to dog owners, including:-
- rights and responsibilities when buying and selling dogs
- liability (both civil and criminal) for dogs that harm people and animals
- identification requirements / the legal implications of microchipping
- noise nuisance
- Dog Control Orders
- cruelty / Duty of Care
- and much, much more!”
I could go on and talk about the many important topics that has stated above, I might do in another blog post in the future, however I’ll tip-toe around the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
When it comes to the ‘Dangerous Dogs Act 1991‘ I can’t seem to look on the news these days and see another tragic incident involving ‘dangerous dogs’. The thing that worries me the most is knee-jerk reactions to legislations that some may think will somehow offer a quick term solution to these problems, these tend to punish the breeds and various dogs and resolve nothing in the long term. As I’ve been studying the Act, the more I read, the more I get confused. It is a real mess piece of work and clearly hasn’t been written by anyone who understands dogs in any shape or form. There should be rules and regulations to some extend, but lets be clear – there is no piece of legislation that can stop or prevent these tragedies only bring those who breach the law be accountable for their actions. It’s just hard to comprehend just how long this Act is and the rules that follow. For example people assume that this Act only applies to dog on person attack where as it applies to pretty much ALL animals and yes, even cats. When it comes to legislation unfortunately dogs can’t exactly, well, read which makes some problems down the line as you can imagine!
Legislation is currently changing as I write this blog and who knows what will come up in the not-so-distant-future. I’m getting an uneasy feeling that more and more restrictions will follow, all we have to do as responsible pet owners is to be aware of these legislations and voice our opinion. As it stands according to DEFRA there are estimated to be 8 million dogs in the UK and that number is steadily rising.
BBC News Article here.
As an example, lets focus for a minute on the tragic case of Jade Anderson back in the 26th March 2013, some of you may know. Jade Anderson was found unconscious with critical injuries from dogs living at a house while visiting friends in Wigan. This case sparked debates with the Dangerous Dogs Act 1911. As it stands, dog attacks are only in breach of the Act if it applies to a public place NOT in private property. The reason for this is because of any burglars or unwanted guests that enter the property unlawfully, you wouldn’t want to get prosecuted because your dog was protecting it’s own home, would you? Or the dog getting put down for that matter
Except, this wasn’t the case. Jade Anderson technically may have entered the property ‘unlawfully’ but we all know she had absolutely no bad intentions. In the end the dog owner didn’t get prosecuted, most would agree she should down to irresponsible ownership.
So, now we have this fine line between what’s legally wrong and what’s morally wrong. People claim to have solutions to these problems but the only one that sticks out is the proposals to change the Act so it applies to public and private property. People may or may not agree with it but in my mind it may solve some problems but could potentially create others. A burglar may enter your house, get attacked by your dog and in the end you may end up getting sued for merely protecting your home. Ideally, we don’t want to go down that route but who knows? Things are changing fast.