Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 dog owners or those responsible for them can now face prosecution if their dog attacks or injures a person in their own home as well as in a public place. They can also be prosecuted if their dog attacks an assistance dog. These incidents should be reported to Hertfordshire Police on its non-emergency number, 101.
The maximum sentences for allowing a dog to attack someone have also been substantially increased. The maximum prison sentences in England and Wales are now:
- Up to 14 years (increased from two years) for a fatal dog attack.
- Up to five years (increased from two years) for injury.
- Up to three years if an assistance dog is attacked.
Irresponsible dog owners will also be liable for prosecution regardless of where an attack takes place, even in their own home. The changes also include a specific offence to protect assistance dogs from attacks.
Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits four types of dog:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
It is an offence to own or keep any of these dogs, unless it is on the Index of Exempted Dogs and it meets the requirements.
You must not breed from, sell or exchange (even as a gift) a dangerous dog, even if it has been placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs.
For the latest information on dangerous dogs, see the Government website.
The Police are responsible for dealing with dangerous dogs (including strays that are formally classified as dangerous because of their breed, such as Pit Bull Terriers). Please phone them on 101.