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Many people in Hertfordshire have dogs and it is important to know your responsibilities as a dog owner, as well as steps you can take to keep your dog safe. Stray dogs are responsibility of your local authority.

Know the law

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.

  • The maximum penalty for allowing your dog to be deemed dangerously out of control is two years' imprisonment, or a fine - or both.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Preventing dog theft

  • Ensure that your dog wears a collar and ID tag when in a public place. On the tag, include your surname, address, telephone number and full postcode. If your dog is microchipped, and you have room to write that on the tag, then try and do so.
  • Microchip your dog so that if the ID tag is removed, it is still permanently identifiable.
  • Do not leave your dog unattended in the car or tied up outside a shop.

Banned dogs

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

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