Newspapers in Britain are running big campaigns to force the Government to introduce tougher laws on the control of dogs.
They are wasting their time.
The laws we need already exist. The problem is that the police seem unaware of the legislation which is already in place.
In Britain it is now against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, including in public places, in private places and even in the owner’s own home.
A dog is considered to be dangerously out of control if it injures someone or makes someone worried that it might injure them.
The second part of that sentence is the crucial one.
The dog doesn’t have to bite to be dangerous.
All the law requires is that someone FEARS that the dog might do them harm.
The penalties are severe.
A dog owner can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months (or both) if their dog is dangerously out of control. And the dog owner convicted may not be able to own a dog in the future. The dog may be destroyed.
Astonishingly, very few dog owners know the law.
Just the other day an out of control dog ran up to me and pinned me against the side of my car. When I politely pointed out to the owner that she was breaking the law, and liable to severe punishment, she called me a liar and insisted that there is no such law.
Well, she was wrong.
I suggest that all dog owners in the UK visit the British Government’s website and look for the heading ‘Controlling your dog in public’.
Or simply key the words ‘Controlling your dog in public’ into a search engine.
Those who are nervous of dogs might also like to take a look at the details of the new law. It is well worth knowing.
And it might also be a good idea if a few police officers updated their knowledge of the law relating to dogs.
Sadly, a surprising number of police officers don’t seem to understand the importance of the new law.
I suggest that anyone who has difficulty in persuading the police to take a complaint seriously might consider making a formal complaint against the police officers concerned, reporting the incident to the press and threatening legal action against the police and the owner of the errant dog.
There are far too many dangerous, unstable and ill-controlled dogs in Britain. And every year thousands of people are injured (some of them fatally) by out of control dogs. Even when dogs are on leads the chances are high that the leads will be of the incredibly long, entirely useless, extendable variety. My credentials as an animal lover and campaigner for animals are beyond question but I believe that the full force of the law must be used to force dog owners and the police to take the situation seriously.