Dangerous Dogs Act Amendments - short clarification

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Dangerous Dogs Act Amendments - short clarification

Post by Caryll on Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:27 am

A friend went to a dog bite/bahaviour prevention weekend recently & Trevor Cooper (dog law expert) gave a talk on the recent ammendments to the law. Here is my friend's short clarification of the law as it now stands (reproduced with permission)...

"I went to the National Dog Bite and Behaviour Conference last weekend. Trevor Cooper was one of the speakers, and he was talking on this subject; it was interesting to hear the opinions of an expert.

The changes to section 3 of the act are those we are concerned with. As far as a dog 'Dangerously out of control' is concerned, the definition has not changed since the Act came into force in 1991, only the places in which it applies. This means that private property, as well as public spaces are now covered. In addition, assistance dogs are included as possible 'victims'. The law applies to both a handler/keeper of the dog at the time of the offence and the owner - so both could be prosecuted.

To be 'dangerously out of control' there have to be "grounds for reasonable apprehension that the dog will injure any person or assistance dog, whether or not it actually does so." A fear of dogs does not constitute "grounds for reasonable apprehension". Similarly, the wording is "that the dog will injure", not that it may injure. This is difficult to prove one way or the other.

There is a presumption that in a proven case that the dog will be destroyed. Proof has to be forthcoming that the temperament and past behaviour of the dog has been non-aggressive, and that the owner/keeper is a 'fit and proper person'. If both criteria are not met then it is possible a good dog may be put down for having a bad owner. This presumption is unique in UK law, as it is usually expected to be 'innocent until proven guilty'. The presumption was challenged in the European courts, but was found to be reasonable.

Two levels of offence can be committed - aggravated, whereby there is injury (no minimum level); this can include scratches and bruising, it does not need to penetrate the skin. Non-aggravated is where there is no injury. Maximum sentences have been increased to five years for aggravated injury, and up to 12 (I think) if there is a fatality.

For householders, there is a defence that may be used - if the offence took place "in a building, partly in a building, or part of a building, that is a dwelling or accommodation". However, there are no definitions within the Act to help out with these ambiguous statements. The trespasser should be entering the accommodation for this defence to apply; if leaving, then it does not. If the building is an outhouse/shed/greenhouse/garden or similar, this does not apply as it has to be a 'dwelling or accommodation'. Signage warning of the presence of the dog/s is not a defence.

Remember the premise in law is that 'beyond reasonable doubt' still applies."

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Re: Dangerous Dogs Act Amendments - short clarification

Post by Eleanor on Wed Jun 04, 2014 11:30 am

Useful info!
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Re: Dangerous Dogs Act Amendments - short clarification

Post by Shisa on Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:08 pm

If only they could be clearer with laws but they leave so many interpretations.
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Re: Dangerous Dogs Act Amendments - short clarification

Post by Eleanor on Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:04 pm

Can get confusing sometimes!
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