Dogs Out of Control in Public Areas

Dogs out of control in a public place

If a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place – then the owner or the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence, or, if the dog while so out of control injures any person, an aggravated offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. In proceedings against a person who is the owner of a dog but at the material time was not in charge of it, it should be a defence for the accused to prove that the dog was at the material time in the charge of a person whom he reasonably believed to be a fit and proper person to be in charge of it.

Section 10(2) of the 1991 Act defines a public place as meaning any street, road or other place to which the public have, or are permitted to have access. This is a wide definition of a public place and one which specifically includes the common parts of a building containing two or more dwellings. It is intended to cover, for instance, those parts of a block of flats where, although there may be a secure front entry door so that the interior of the flat is not a place to which the public has unrestricted access, nevertheless the common parts are, in all other respects, a public place.

A person found guilty of an offence may face imprisonment or a fine, and the courts may disqualify the offender from having custody of a dog for any period.

Under the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847 it is an offence for any person in any street: to let an unmuzzled ferocious dog be at large so that it obstructs or annoys the residents or passengers in the street or puts them in danger; or to set on or to urge any dog to attack, worry or put in fear any person or animal. A dog will not be at large while it is held on a lead. The word ‘street’ here is given an extended meaning to include any road, square, court, alley, thoroughfare or public passage.

In the Metropolitan Police District a similar offence has been created by the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839. This differs only from the first part of the 1847 Act offence in that it is sufficient that an unmuzzled dog be at large (no obstruction, annoyance or danger need be shown), and that the place of the offence is described as any thoroughfare or public place.

Under the Dogs Act 1871, any person may make a complaint to a magistrates court that a dog is dangerous, or report the matter to the police. If the court is satisfied that a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control, it may make an order for it to be controlled or destroyed.

The Animals Act 1971 provides that the keeper of an animal is liable for any damage it causes, if he knows it was likely to cause such damage or injury unrestrained.
http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare … c/dogs.htm