Nearly a year has passed since our first lockdown and during that time there has been a surge in the amount of pet owners in the UK. The coronavirus pandemic and worldwide lockdown has seen loneliness at a high so many people believed it to be the perfect to time buy or adopt a puppy. Sadly, with the increase in pet ownership there has also been an increase in dangerous dogs offences as training and usual social interaction with other dogs have not been a priority for owners.
The pandemic has also caused more people to work from home and this has resulted in puppy sales hitting an all-time high. Last August, the Kennel Club shared the following statistics:
- Around one in four Brits impulse bought a pet to help them through lockdown but have since gone on to admit they don’t have the time, money or means to look after them anymore
- Up to a fifth of puppy buyers do not do research beforehand
- More than a third of puppy buyers take just 20 minutes or less to decide where to get their dog from
Lockdown & Lack of Interaction
A serious concern is that a large majority of puppies have never, or rarely, been out of their homes. With little access to puppy training and socialisation classes, changes to daily routines and negative experiences, pups can quickly form bad habits.
Itch, a pet wellness company, cited in The Metro, surveyed the people who bought or adopted a dog during the last 12 months to understand the challenges facing pet owners during this pandemic.
- Over half of lockdown pups have never been in an environment other than their own home
- Nearly half haven’t been introduced to children
- One third of pups have been unable to visit parks
The CEO of Itch has mentioned how new owners must adapt to the ‘new normal’ to help integrate pups into a post-pandemic society so they can have a rich and fulfilling life.
It’s clear that some owners didn’t expect the amount of work and responsibility involved in raising and caring for a puppy. This has resulted in nearly half of new dog owners experiencing regret about their purchase and considering putting their lockdown pups up for adoption once life returns to normal.
Oli Juste, also cited in the aforementioned Metro article, is leading dog trainer and behaviourist. They stressed the importance of socialisation for young pups especially during the first 16 weeks. Also mentioned was how these dogs will require special attention due to their lack of interaction.
Post Lockdown & Behavioural Issues
A majority of new owners are concerned their dog will have separation-related issues more people return to work and our routines change. This can occur when owners leave their dogs at home and the dog displays anxious behaviours such as braking, chewing household items and toileting in the house.
Another behavioural problem for dogs is dog aggression. This may be caused by negative experiences with another dog, such as an attack, or due to lack of socialisation from an early age. This can lead to nervous aggression depending on the cause.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
The Dangerous Dogs Act was enforced to prevent the amount of dog attacks and dog related injuries. It also bans four breeds of dogs unless the owners are able to register them on the Index of Exempted Dogs during a limited time period. These types of dogs are:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Braziliero (aka Brasileiro)
Under the Act, it is illegal for any breed of dog to be ‘dangerously out of control in any place’ or to bite or attack someone whilst out of control. It is also an offence if a person is worried or has reasonable apprehension that a dog might bite or attack them. The law was amended to include incidents on private property whether it is inside your home or someone else’s, including front and back gardens.
Your dog can be considered as dangerously out of control if it injures someone or makes someone worried that it might injure them. This is why it’s imperative to ensure you keep your dog under control at all time in all places
Contrastingly, the law provides defence if your dog attacks an intruder in your own home. If, however, it were to attack an intruder in your garden, that is considered an offence which could land you in court.
It also an offence if your dog attacks an assistance dog, but attacks on other animals, including other pet dogs, are not considered offences.
Dangerous Dogs Sentences and Punishments
Sentences and punishments vary widely from where the dog was dangerously out of control to where it injured or killed someone. These punishments can range from fines to prison sentences for up to 14 years for the most serious offences.
There are also other types of punishments that the courts can impose including:
- Disqualification from Having a Dog – This is where the court determines whether the defendant is a “fit and proper person to have custody of a dog”
- Destruction Order – Following conviction, the dog will be put down, unless the court is satisfied that the dog would not be a danger to public safety.
- Contingent Destruction Order – If the dog is not considered to be a danger to public safety, it must be kept under proper control which can include conditions such as being kept muzzled or on a lead.
How to Deal with Dangerous Dogs Allegations Made Against You
With more pups lacking training and socialisation, it is inevitable that there will be more dangerous dogs incidents whether it’s during or beyond lockdown. Any dog attack is unfortunate and can be very distressing for the victim as well as the dog owner, especially if the dog has never previously displayed signs of aggression.
It is important you seek legal advice as soon as you can, should you be accused of an offence relating to dangerous dogs.
At Slater Heelis, we have expert Dangerous Dogs Offences solicitors to make sure you and your dog receives the best legal protection available.
If you have any questions or would like to seek legal advice about a dangerous dog offence, you can speak to our team of specialists.
You can call us on 0161 969 3131 or fill in our contact form and we will be in touch.