The topic of dangerous dogs is one which strikes fear in the hearts of many particularly after a recent spate of attacks.
Certain types have the potential to cause fatal injuries should they be untrained and left to act on what was bred into them. When the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force in 1991 four breeds were banned: Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.
Pit Bulls are the breed most commonly associated with attacks in the UK. Earlier this week a 75-year-old woman from Blackburn was left with life-changing injuries after her neighbor David Gorton’s dog Kia attacked her in his garden. Mr Gorton insists Kia has previously been tested and is not a Pit Bull although police later described his two dogs as Pit Bull-types.
READ MORE: Owner of dog which left Blackburn pensioner with life-changing injuries had to ‘prise animal’s teeth apart’
If you have a banned dog the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if it isn’t acting dangerously or there hasn’t been a complaint. If your dog is in a public place the police do not need a warrant, if it’s in a private place the police must get a warrant and if it’s in a private place and the police have a warrant for something else, such as a drugs search , they can seize your dog.
A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is, or could be, a danger to the public. Your dog will then either be released or kept in kennels while an application is made to a court. You’re not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.
If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the Index of Exempted Dogs. This allows you to keep your pet but you must abide by several conditions including taking out insurance against your dog injuring other people, having it neutered and microchipped, keeping it on a lead and muzzle in public and keeping it in a secure place.
It is against the law to sell, abandon, give away or breed from a banned dog. Government guidance states that, whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.
If your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type. This means a dog could simply be put down should it look a certain way.
If you believe someone near you owns a banned breed you can report it to your local council’s dog warden. If the council believes it could be a banned breed they can apply for a court order to seize and assess the dog.
New data has revealed an increase in children under the age of 15 having to attend hospital for dog-related injuries between April 2021 and March 2022. Up 7.5 per cent to 1,516, this is the second highest figure since records began in 2007.
The four banned breeds
In 1991, the UK government decided to ban pit bulls in response to a slew of incidents involving vicious, often unprovoked attacks, by this particular breed of dog, on humans. There were 15 fatal dog attacks in England and Wales between 1981 and 1991. Though there is no concrete scientific evidence that these dogs are more aggressive or dangerous than any other breed, they have been favored as pets by criminals, many of whom train them as attack dogs.
Originally bred in Tosa, Shikoku, as a fighting dog the Tosa is the only breed still used in Japanese dog fighting. As well as being banned in the UK the breed is banned in Australia, Denmark, Israel and Turkey among others.
The Dogo Argentino is a large, white, muscular breed of dog that was developed in Argentina primarily for the purpose of big-game hunting, including wild boar. The breeder, Antonio Nores Martínez, also wanted a dog that would exhibit steadfast bravery and willingly protect its human companion.
The Fila Brasileiro, or Brazilian Mastiff, is a large working breed of dog developed in Brazil. It is known for its superb tracking ability, aggressiveness and an unforgiving, impetuous temperament. Rather than attacking its prey, the Fila traps it and waits for the hunter to arrive.