Dogs dangerously out of control

Section 3 The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991


This applies to every single dog in England and Wales.

This can be brought against the owner of the dog and the person in charge of a dog if a dog is dangerously out of control.

This applies in your own home and garden, as well as in public places.

Dangerously out of control is defined as ‘on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog’

If you receive a summons to attend a Magistrates Court under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 it may be extremely serious, and vital you seek legal assistance without delay. The Court has the power to impose severe penalties including destruction of the dog and a prison sentence to the owner/ person in charge of the dog.


Section 2 Dogs Act 1871


This is a civil complaint, although heard in a Magistrates Court, this is generally brought if a dog is not under proper control and is considered a danger. It applies to public and private places. A single incident is generally insufficient to prove a dog is dangerous (unless in exceptional circumstances).

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There is no power for the police to seize a dog under Section 2 Dogs Act 1871 and there is no presumption in favour of destruction of the dog. A destruction order is very rare; it is more likely a Control Order will be put in place and the owner will have to pay costs.

Proceedings can also only be brought again the owner (not the person in charge of the dog).

Given the recent extension of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to include private property this section is likely to be used less in the future.

Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953


If a dog chases or attacks livestock, either on agricultural land or in a field containing livestock, the owner has committed an offence under the act. The Police have the power to seize the dog. Under this act the maximum penalty is a fine but it could also lead to a destruction order being made under section 2 Dogs Act 1871.


It is very important to seek legal advice immediately - expert evidence is vital in these cases as the courts take a serious stance where livestock has been killed.

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