What are the laws on dangerous dogs, which are banned, and how severe are the penalties?

PUBLISHED: 08:34 05 April 2017

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Everything you need to know in our handy guide

Following Tuesday night’s dog attack that left a toddler fighting for life, questions have again been raised about whether the law is strong enough to protect the public against dangerous pets.

Fundamentally, it is against the law to let any dog be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place, a private place such as a neighbour’s house or garden or in the owner’s home.

The government defines a dog as ‘dangerously out of control’ if it injures someone or makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if it attacks someone’s animal or the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop the dog attacking their animal.

Legally, a farmer is allowed to kill the dog if it’s worrying their livestock.

It is also against the law to own certain types of dogs, including the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino or Fila Brasiliero

It’s also against the law to sell. abandon, give away or breed from a banned dog.

Owners with ‘dangerously out of control’ dogs can be slapped with an unlimited fine, or be sent to prison for up to six months, or both.

A ban on being allowed to own a dog in the future may also apply.

Owners who let their dog injure someone can result in a prison sentence of five years, and if deliberately used to injure, a charge of ‘malicious wounding’ could apply.

Ordering the dog to kill someone can result in a 14-year prison sentence, while allowing the dog to injure an assistance dog, such as a guide dog, could lead to a three-year jail term.

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