Dog Legislation Officers- what do they do?

Date published: 31 August 2022 11:01
Dated: 31 August 2022 12:00:42

‘We love dogs, we’re both dog lovers and understand the happiness they bring to a family, but we deal with the fatalities and serious injuries, we see the potential in those out of control. Dogs must be respected and UK laws are there for a reason’

We meet with Dog Legislation Officers PC Paul Jameson and PC Rachael Atwell to understand the work they do to keep our communities safe.

The two PC’s are a small but mighty duo, whose work is to manage risk and reduce deaths caused by dogs and serious injuries.

PC Paul Jameson explains more, he said: “We do not remove good, safe animals from families. We do not destroy safe, manageable dogs, we are here to reduce risk, fatalities and injury.

“Every month we receive over 20 reports of dangerous or out of control dogs, those of a banned breed or dogs that have caused fear or harm to another dog or person.

“We are here to assess dogs that have been seized or are part of an investigation, advise and support dog investigators, and educate owners on how to prevent incidents from happening.

“Part of our role is to identify and manage banned breeds. There are four banned breeds of dog in the UK: American Pitbull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazilero and a Japanese Tosa.

“If we identify a banned breed of a dog, we do not instantly destroy it. Our role is to assess the dog , to understand the circumstances around its seizure, its home environment, and whether or not we believe it to be a danger to the public.

“As part of the assessment, we also assess the owner. Dogs from the banned breeds may be returned to their owners following a thorough court process where the dog is deemed suitable, their environment is deemed suitable, and their owner a fit and responsible person. This decision is made by the court. The judge may often enforce that the dog is always walked with a muzzle on, by someone over the age of 16 and that the dog is fully insured, including third party. There are other conditions in relation to the dog being spayed/neutered, and in relation to its care.

“We want responsible owners to have decent dogs, in a safe environment and that’s why it is important that anyone looking to buy a dog does so from a reputable breeder or from a rehomes a dog from a rescue centre. Buying a dog that you do not know its full breeding or history can cause problems.”

Education is important on how to be a responsible dog owner and PC Jameson and PC Atwell are passionate about dog owners taking responsibility for their pet.

PC Atwell said: “A lot of dog owners don’t know that their dog doesn’t actually need to injure someone for an offence to be committed. Under Section 3 of the dangerous dogs act there only needs to be apprehension of injury, this covers incidents where dogs off leads attack a dog on a lead for example.

“Some owners might see this as ‘what dogs do’ but this could actually constitute a criminal offence for which a person can be sentenced to up to six months in prison and, or be fined.

“We would rather talk to people about their dog, educate them, than prosecute them.

“We are currently working with charities to provide a course in the future, where those suspected of committing low level offences can complete a ‘responsible dog ownership’ course.

“Our ultimate aim is for families to enjoy their dogs, but it must be done safely.”

For more information on the dangerous dogs act, and advice for your dog’s safety please visit the Blue Cross website. 

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