Possession of a Prohibited Dog
(Section 1 and Section 4B Dangerous Dogs Act 1991)
Under Section 1 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 it is an offence to be in possession of any of the following types of dog unless they have been registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs and the conditions of exemption are complied with:
- Pit bull terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Japanese tosa
- Fila Braziliero
If the court decides your dog is a pit bull type then they must either make a destruction order or, if they are satisfied that you are a suitable owner and that your dog doesn’t pose a risk to the public, they can make a contingent destruction order which allows your dog to come home subject to stringent conditions including neutering, micro-chipping, third party insurance for life and registration on the Index of Exempted Dogs. Thereafter he must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public, can only be walked by someone over the age of 16 years and your home and garden must be secure to prevent escape. Failure to comply with these conditions could lead to your dog being seized and you being prosecuted.
If you are no longer able to look after your dog or if the court do not consider you a suitable person to own a dog of that type it may be possible to appoint a person to be the registered keeper for your dog however, the law on keepership has recently changed making it much more difficult to do this.
Not only is it unlawful to own an unregistered prohibited type of dog it is also unlawful to sell one, give one away, abandon it or allow it to stray. It is also unlawful to breed, or breed from, a prohibited dog or to advertise one for sale. All offences under s1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 can only be dealt with in the magistrates’ court and carry a maximum sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment. The court can also disqualify a person from keeping dogs.
Section 4B of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
Section 4B of the Dangerous Dogs Act is the civil equivalent of s1 of the Act and allows the police to apply to the magistrates’ court for a destruction order, or a contingent destruction order, without the owner being prosecuted. The advantage of this section is that the owner avoids a criminal record. In some areas this section is only used when the owner accepts that his dog is a pit bull type and where the police are satisfied that the owner is responsible and the dog friendly but, in other areas, most cases go to court under this section which can be a problem to owners as legal aid is not available and expert evidence can be expensive. We are in regular contact with a number of charitable/not for profit organisations who may be able to assist with funding your case if legal aid is not available.
Importing Prohibited Dogs Into the UK
We have had great success helping those who want to bring their dogs into the UK, but who fear that they may fall foul of the strict rules regarding prohibited dogs. We can advise you on the relevant law, arrange for an assessment of your dog to be carried out (either in person or remotely) and then provide a report of the assessment to the police and liaise with them over the arrival of your dog. We can also advise and assist with any problems which may arise along the way.