The following dogs are considered to be dangerous dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991:
- Pit Bull Terrier (inc. cross bred pitbulls)
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino and
- Fila Braziliero
It is illegal to possess such a dog without a certificate of exemption, which is granted once the dog is neutered, insured, and has a micro-chip implant. These dogs cannot be in a public place without being muzzled and being securely kept on a lead by a person who is not less than 16 years old.
Furthermore, under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, an offence could be committed if any dog is dangerously out of control in a public place. Even if it is not in a public place, but in a place where the dog is permitted to be and it bites someone, or frightens someone, the owner could still be prosecuted.
Unlike in the case of stray dogs both the local authority and the police have a responsibility for responding to complaints involving dangerous dogs.
In practice complaints involving stray dogs tend to involve a joint approach unless it becomes clear that one agency is better placed than the other to deal with a particular complaint.
In instances where a dog is attacking sheep and other livestock the owner of the livestock can in law shoot the attacking dog.
There is no simple answer, nor set formula to solve the problem of unfriendly dogs. However, most dogs tend to conform to predictable rules of behaviour.
This information may help you to avoid trouble:
- Even friendly dogs will bark at you, as it is their job to defend their territory. Others will see you as a threat to themselves or their handler when out walking.
- Talk to the dog in a firm but friendly voice and if it approaches in a friendly way - no snarl or hackles up - stand still to allow the dog to sniff you, keeping your hands clear until you feel confident.
- As you get closer to the dog, look at how it reacts to you. If it stays put or backs off, it probably regards you as a dominant intruder and will be too scared to attack. If it walks or runs towards you with its tail wagging in a low position it is probably friendly and unlikely to bite you. If it stiffens up, holds its tail high, snarls and stares at you then be on your guard. If it bares its teeth, it may be safer to go no further.
- Never run past a strange dog, or walk quickly away from it. This may make it chase you and you could get bitten as a result.
- Always walk or back away slowly, facing the dog as you do so - until you are sure you are safe.
- Show no fear. A dog can detect fear. Keep calm, walk away slowly and speak firmly to the dog.
- Don't stare. Staring is a threat - a dog may read it as a challenge and attack.
- Do not allow children to approach dogs they do not know. You can never be sure. Ensure that children do not poke the dog's eyes or pull its hair etc. A dog only has one way to say "I've had enough", and that is to snarl or bite.
You should remember that dogs rarely attack so don't be too anxious about every dog you meet. Most are scared about getting into a fight but like to act tough in their own territory.
Unless a member of the public was at risk at the time of the attack, this would be considered a civil matter between you and the owner of the other dog concerned.
However, the Dog Control Team would be more than happy to advise you regarding appropriate action and may consider visiting the owner of the dog for an informal discussion.
It is important to, in the first instance, obtain immediate medical help if the bite is serious, especially if your anti tetanus inoculation is out of date (a booster is normally required every ten years).
You should then immediately contact the Dog Control Team in the Council on 01437 764551 and also Dyfed-Powys Police on 101.