Dog controls

Information about dog controls, aggressive dogs and controlled breeds

Dog controls

Whilst the majority of dog owners are responsible, unfortunately a minority still fail to pick up dog waste and allow their pets to run out of control.

Please see our 'Dogs Public Space Protection Order' document for full details.

The Order contains a number of measures to enable us to address this irresponsible behaviour – including requirements for:

  • owners to pick up after their dog
  • owners to place any out of control dog on a lead if requested
  • dogs to be on a lead in a public cemetery, churchyard or graveyard, ornamental or formal gardens open to the public, or in any council owned car parks or allotments
  • No persons shall walk or exercise more than six dogs, at any one time, and no more than three shall be walked or exercised off-lead or on an extended lead (longer than 2 metres) at any one time
  • dogs not to be present on any formal sports pitch or enclosed children’s play area
  • between 1 October and 31 March, dogs not to be present on or near land used as a High Tide Roosting Sites for overwintering birds
  • between 1 May and 30 September, dogs not to be present on Croyde or Combe Martin beaches
  • dogs to be on a lead in certain locations in Braunton Burrows at certain times of year
  • no persons shall walk or exercise their dog other than in accordance with requirements of a temporary restriction which is clearly marked and adequately notified

Dog owners who do not adhere to these controls could attract a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100, or prosecution.

Dogs out of control

A 2014 amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act makes the legislation applicable to public and private areas. Chasing, barking and jumping, any behaviour that results in the person feeling as though they are in danger is a breach of the act.

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 or livestock.

You are obliged to keep your 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 and a sentence of up to:

  • five years imprisonment if someone is hurt
  • 14 years imprisonment if the victim dies
  • 3 years imprisonment for an attack on a service dog

The courts can also 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.

Controlled breeds

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
  • XL Bully types

If you are an owner of one of these breeds, you must be registered at your local police station.

The dog must also be:

  • microchipped
  • tattooed on the inner thigh (XL Bully types aren't required to be tattooed) 
  • covered by third party insurance
  • neutered

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.