Dog Law

There are two main types of offence relating to the ownership of allegedly dangerous dogs. These are the offences alleging ownership of a dog which the police say is an illegal breed and those committed when your dog bites another dog or person. We can help you with either of those.

There are a number of breeds that are illegal and to own a dog of such a breed or, crucially, a dog of that “type” is a criminal offence. A dog of that “type” can include cross-breeds. The most common illegal dog is the Pit Bull Terrier. Very often dogs which have been sold as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier or a Bull Terrier have in fact been bred with a Pit Bull Terrier somewhere in the past.

If a police officer considers that your dog might be an illegal breed they are entitled to seize it and it will be held in police kennels. The police will arrange for an expert in dog identification to assess your dog to consider whether it is illegal. These experts are usually, in the first instance, police officers experienced and trained in dangerous dog law. They are not always veterinary experts.

If the police “expert” decides that your dog is illegal they may tell you that if you sign over ownership of your dog to them, you will not be charged with an offence of possessing a dangerous dog. If you do that your dog will be destroyed. You do NOT have to agree to this.

If you refuse to sign your dog over you will be charged with a criminal offence but that is where we can help you. We will instruct our own expert, a proper veterinary expert, to assess your dog and consider if he is an illegal breed. Even if he is illegal, that does not automatically mean that he will be destroyed.

Our veterinary expert will go on to assess your dog’s temperament. The law allows an otherwise illegal dog to be kept if he is assessed not to be a danger to the public. Certain conditions must also be met and maintained, such as neutering, insuring the dog, muzzling and keeping on a lead in public.

The other scenario is where your dog has bitten another dog or a person. In a similar way, do not feel that you have to agree to police suggestions to simply sign your dog over to them for destruction. Even if your dog did bite the person, as alleged, if this is a one-off incident and the assessment of temperament is positive, it is possible to prevent destruction of your dog.

We have considerable experience and success in dealing with such cases. Please call us before you agree to any police proposals to sign over your dog. We can help you to prevent your dog being destroyed. We are criminal defence solicitors based in London & the Home Counties. Contact us today.

Nb. This guide is intended to give general information only and not intended to be used as the basis upon which Advice is given nor should it be relied upon as giving advice specific to a case or individual and Lawtons do not accept liability for anyone using this guide. Should you require specific advice in connection with a real case or situation, please contact us immediately so that we can provide specific Advice