The subject of dangerous dogs is one that strikes fear into the hearts of many, especially after a recent spate of attacks.
Some types have the potential to cause fatal injuries if they are not trained and must act on what they have been taught. When the Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect in 1991, four breeds were banned: Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.
Pit Bulls are the breed most often associated with attacks in the UK. Earlier this week, a 75-year-old woman from Blackburn suffered life-changing injuries after neighbor David Gorton’s dog Kia attacked her in her garden. Mr Gorton insists Kia has already been tested and is not a Pit Bull, although police later described his two dogs as Pit Bull types.
READ MORE: Owner of dog who left Blackburn pensioner with life-altering injuries had to ‘give the animal’s teeth apart’
If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can remove it and keep it, even if it is not acting dangerously or there has been no complaint. If your dog is in a public place the police do not need a warrant, if it is in a private place the police must obtain a warrant and if it is in a private place the police have a warrant for something else, like a drug 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 a kennel while a claim is filed with a court. You are not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.
If your dog is banned but the court finds that it poses no danger to the public, it may be listed on the Exempt Dog Index. This allows you to keep your pet but you must respect several conditions including taking out insurance against injuries to your dog, having it sterilized and microchipped, keeping it on a leash and muzzled in public and keeping it in a safe place.
It is against the law to sell, give up, give away or breed a prohibited dog. Government guidelines state that whether your dog is a prohibited type depends on its appearance, rather than its breed or name.
If your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a prohibited type. This means that a dog can simply be put down if it looks a certain way.
If you think someone near you has a prohibited breed, you can report it to the dog sitter at your town hall. If the board believes it might be a prohibited breed, they can apply for a court order to seize and assess the dog.
New data has revealed an increase in the number of children under the age of 15 requiring hospitalization for dog-related injuries between April 2021 and March 2022. Up 7.5% to 1,516, this is the second highest figure since records began in 2007.
The four forbidden races
pit bull terrier
In 1991, the British government decided to ban pit bulls in response to a series 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. Although 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 other places.
The Dogo Argentino is a large, muscular, white dog breed that was developed in Argentina primarily for hunting big game, including wild boar. The breeder, Antonio Nores Martínez, also wanted a dog that would show unwavering bravery and willingly protect his human companion.
The Fila Brasileiro, or Brazilian Mastiff, is a large working dog breed developed in Brazil. He is known for his superb tracking ability, aggressiveness, and ruthless, brash temper. Rather than attacking its prey, the Fila traps it and waits for the hunter to arrive.