Leash orders - It is advisable to keep your dog on a lead in all public areas. It is a legal requirement to do so where a leash order is in place.
Dogs on beaches - In some areas dogs are banned from certain beaches during summer or holiday periods. Bans may also be instigated by private beach owners.
North Devon Council has legal powers to:
- mount a prosecution where someone allows a dog to be dangerously out of control (dog on dog attack)
- deal with specially controlled breeds
The police have similar powers, in particular, where a dog attacks a person.
You are obliged to keep you dog under control. 'Dangerously out of control' does not mean that the dog has to bite someone. It includes a dog that is considered to be acting in a threatening manner.
Conviction for breaching the Dangerous Dogs Act can result in fines of up to £2,000 and/or six months imprisonment, or up to two years if someone is hurt. The courts may place a court order on the dog, restrict the owner’s future ability to keep dogs or order the destruction of the dog.
If a dog does cause injury and the case is proven in court, the dog will be destroyed, with maximum penalties for the owner of two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Owners of certain breeds must carry a certificate of exemption allowing them to keep their dogs. These breeds are:
- Pit Bull Terrier and Pit Bull Terrier types
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Angentino
- Fila Braziliero
If you are an owner of one of these breeds, you must be registered at your local police station.
The dog must also be:
- tattooed on the inner thigh
- covered by third party insurance
In addition, all controlled dogs must be muzzled and on a lead when in a public place and kept in the charge of a person over the age of 16.
If you do not have a certificate of exemption for a controlled breed, you are liable to have your dog seized by a police officer or the NDC's dog warden. A court case may then follow to establish whether you are in possession of an unregistered dog. If this is found to be the case, the court will likely order the dog to be destroyed and sentence you as the owner to six months in prison and/or a fine not exceeding £2,000.