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The Law and Dog Ownership

You could be breaking the law if you allow your dog to be 'dangerously out of control'. A dog is deemed to be 'dangerously out of control' if it injures a person or behaves erratically, making a person believe it may injure them.


'Dangerously out of control' dogs


  • The maximum penalty for allowing your dog to be deemed dangerously out of control is two years' imprisonment, or a fine - or both.
  • You can be charged with malicious wounding if you allow your dog to injure someone. The maximum penalty for this is five years' imprisonment.
  • Your dog could be destroyed and you could be banned from keeping a dog if you do not keep it under control. Alternatively, you could be made to keep your dog muzzled when taking it for a walk.
  • If your dog is dangerously out of control in its home or garden, the police - or anyone else worried about the dog being a risk - can seek a control order.
    If your dog injures another person's animal, or an owner of an animal reasonably feels that your dog could injure them if they tried to protect their animal, an offence may have been committed.

'Banned dogs'


Some dogs are 'banned' and this is dependent upon what your dog looks like rather than its breed, name or its parents' breed. The law states that four kinds of dog are banned:


  • Japanese Tosa.
  • Dogo Argentino.
  • Fila Braziliero.
  • Pit Bull Terrier (can also be referred to as an American Staffordshire Terrier, Am Staffs, Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Irish Blue or Red Nose, and some kinds of American Bulldogs).

The police have the power to seize your dog if they believe it is a banned type. The maximum penalty for possessing a banned dog is £5,000 or six months' imprisonment - or both.


You must not own, breed from, sell, give away or abandon any banned dog.


LEAD - Responsible dog ownership


LEAD is a new scheme promoting responsible dog ownership, which has been launched in Stevenage and East Herts. Following on from the police campaign to educate local residents about new dog legislation, launched earlier this year, LEAD – Local Environmental Awareness on Dogs - aims to help dog owners and local residents further.

LEAD is a police-led, initiative founded by PC Heath Keogh from the MPS/London Borough of Sutton to encourage responsible dog ownership of all breeds of dog. It seeks to provide advice to the public on dog issues and improve dog safety and dog welfare. It also deals with anti-social, inconsiderate and criminal behaviour by individuals with dogs, in a way that protects and reassures the public. It is aimed at all dog owners in Hertfordshire whether in private or rented accommodation.


This work is being promoted through regular dog roadshows, engagement with dog owners during regular patrols and through day-to-day contact with owners of dogs that come to the attention of the police. To achieve this Stevenage Police are working closely with partner agencies, which include Stevenage Borough Council, all Registered Social Landlords, the RSPCA and local rehoming centres.

As well as encouraging responsible dog ownership and giving advice, there are times when it is necessary for police to intervene, initiate control measures and ultimately prosecute offenders. Police intervention will take place when dogs are used by owners to commit crime, are linked with anti-social behaviour and are prohibited types/breeds.

We will act to enforce the law and protect the public whenever necessary and where legislation permits. Measures will include a first and second ‘come to notice’ letter, detailing the issue with the dog and required action. If this is not adhered to Acceptable Behaviour Agreements (ABA), Community Protection Notice (CPN), Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) or a Contingent Destruction Order (CDO) on conviction under the Dangerous Dogs Act will all be considered. However a CPN, CBO, CDO or a Dog Control order can be sought at any time during the process.


For more information about LEAD contact: PC Lindsey Cox (Stevenage) and PC Gemma Wardell (East Herts) All anti-social dog incidents and bites must be reported via 101.

For more information on new legislation regarding dog ownership visit: Web Link

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