We read every day about dogs being injured by other dogs, sometimes fatally.  Although I work closely with several police forces, they often give poor advice about the law as it stands now and what can be done.  My latest advocacy was for a Registered Assistance Dog that had been repeatedly attacked by the same dog and Police persistently said nothing could be done as man not bitten.  The attacking dog is now removed to rescue.

Please note: this advice relates to current British Law, the DDA is different in Scotland.
Last Edit April 2016

The DDA was amended 14th May 2014 to include private property and other changes. If your dogs causes “reasonable apprehension” in someone who believes they could be bitten, you have broken the law.  BEFORE a bite.

Also see our post about Seized Dogs and your rights

If your dog is threatened or injured, report it to the Council Dog Warden.  They may say they can’t do anything, insist they take a report so that if there is another incident, more evidence is available. Try to get a photo if you can of the person and dog.  Sadly some people have thought their dog was not badly injured and got home to find worse wounds that thought.  The least you can do is pursue the owner for your vet bills.  You may still be able to take legal action under the original Dogs Act too.

This s Debbie Connolly’s interview about the DDA on Sky News April 2016

So, action can be taken, if it is reasonable to say that the behaviour of the  dog means it is legitimate to feel you are likely to be bitten.  Note it becomes an aggravated offence in a public place if the dog injures (not just bites) a person, but is an offence before that.  We don’t want dogs seized and destroyed, we want dog owners to take responsibility and for the Police to go talk to them and explain the law.  This alone has often made a reluctant or lazy owner take action, get training, neuter, buy new gates!

The local Dog Warden is your best bet for incidents that don’t need Police initially. But if in public, especially if there are repeated offences by a dog owner, regardless of whether a person has yet been bitten, if it is reasonable to say you thought you would be, the Police CAN act.


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The Dangerous Dogs Act applies to public and private premises.

If your dog is injured, as things stand, it is not an offence, something else campaigners are working on.  Unless there is a threat to a person, you cannot do much other than invoke the original Dogs Act which is civil.

In a lot of cases the attacking dog is well known, has frightened lots of people and probably needs training and neutering but the owner won’t do anything.  We have helped a lot of dog owners get the right help to persuade the offender to act responsibly.

Banding together with other owners who have also been affected, particularly if same place or same dog, can mean more press interest and if no other choice, embarrassing the owner has worked too.

If you own a dog that is aggressive, please get help, we all want to have our dogs live a great life with lots of freedom.  We retrain dogs like this all the time, ask for our help. Read about our services on the SafePets website HERE


Call us 0208 1445799

Email us HERE     training@safepets.co.uk       SafePets Website HERE

About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

27 responses »

  1. Ryan says:

    My dog has been bitten twice now by one of the neighbours on our farm as she opens the door when taking it a walk and it runs free despite pestering all of the neighbors dogs. She owns 3 a Rottweiler cross, an alsation and some form of terrier. The two big ones are fine and the alsation is very well trained but its the terrier that causes the havoc. L As i said before this has happened twice now and one was ealier today with my girlfriend taking our rottweiler (1 and a half years old, not fully matured but big dog, neutered and we rehomed him still in 1on1 training once a month) out for his morning pee, she opens the door and the terrier runs down to our dog after seeing him about 75/100 yards away barking. My girlfriend got our to sit as we knew what was abouto happen after last time. Sure enough the wee dog starts trying to bite the back end of our dog l, in my opinion understandable he starts jumping around. Takes about 30 seconds of this until the owner runs down to get the terrier off my dog. No serious injuries and no-one except the other neighbors care about what happened
    happened. Cant help but feel if this was the opposite way about and the rottweiler bit the terrier it would be a completely different story. Why only the big dogs that get victimised!

    • safepets uk says:

      Sad tale. You can report to dog warden as this dog is straying. You could put a lead on it and get dog warden to collect it and they’ll have to pay to get him back. You are right, the other way round and you’d be in the papers. One day this could turn nasty, I’d be reporting it.

    • R Austin says:

      Hello Ryan, my name is also Ryan. I am sorry to here about your dog being bitten. Today my 10 year old son was walking my German Shepherd. He is jet black, large but as soft as a sponge. He was walking home from a field my house when a bit ball ran from a near buy house. The dog manged to grip my dogs neck and take chunks of fear of him. When pinning him to the floor, Charlie (my dog) split his eye. Thankfully eye-seers managed to calm my son down and call the police. The owner of the pit-ball had no control over this dog, making his case worse. After seconds, the police man arrived when Charlie was safely home. They interviewed my son and the owner. We were given a crime number, however, I am still worried we will not get a case. Visit http://www.dogcases.co.uk and get legal help. They promised me help. They also promised:
      -The owner will pay the vet bill,
      -The owner will no longer get dogs
      -His dog (pit-ball) will be put down

      Thank you for reading my email.

      • safepets uk says:

        Ryan the website in your post doesn’t exist, what should it be? I don’t understand why this company is promising you things. The dog, if it is an illegal breed like a Pit Bull, can still be defended by the owner. Only a judge can impose a destruction order and even then he can appeal. Unless there are animal welfare charges separately such as the way he is looking after the dog, he will not be banned from owning another dog. I hope your dog makes a good recovery.

  2. Lynne Beaty says:

    my akita was attacked last night while i was walking him, a huge rottweiler that pulled free of its owner came snarling over and was biting my dogs neck area i kept pulling my dog back although he did defend himself and me it was a most terrifying experience this dog is far to powerful for the woman walking him i am now scared that everytime we go out if we are on the same street he will try for my dog again,,this is the 2nd time my poor dog has been attacked the first being when he was only 5 months old and i took him to the park where other dog owners sat round while there dogs were off their leads and all 4 off them were snapping at his legs, small dogs big personalities he now hates any small dogs that come near,,,its so unfair my akita is the most gentle softy boy he is 3 and a half yrs

    • safepets uk says:

      Hello Lynne
      I have a soft spot for Akitas, this is such a sad story. I would report this to the dog warden and make sure it is recorded in case of other complaints. Unless you were threatened by the dog (only have to be threatened, not bitten) then you can insist the Police take a report under section 3 of the DDA.
      If the owner is in council, Housing Association or private renting, also speak to the landlord, most have clauses in about tenant’s dogs causing nuisance.

  3. Pauly Miller says:

    My 5month Collie pup was attacked by a staffy this weekend. Went straight for her throat and was quickly killing her. Myself and staffy owner could NOT get him off so i literally battered its face with everything i had until he eventually dropped her. It was horrific!.. her throat was cut open and my hand/wrist cut up. Leather collar saved her life!!!
    They offered to pay all vets bills and muzzle him, but i am really torn weather i report it or not? Despite the awful attack it is their dog (all dogs mean something to their owners) & i kinda don’t want it destroyed.
    An old ladies dog or a child would not have survived that. what should i do?

    • safepets uk says:

      I hope your pup makes a full recovery. The DDA does not cover dog on dog attacks, there has to be a threat to person.
      I would report this to your local dog warden. You may find the dog is known and the owners promise every time to muzzle in future and don’t.

  4. Michael mcgory says:

    my dog was attack bye two dogs on Monday afternoon I try to stop the other dogs but kept coming back at mine dog and one try to rip my dog ear off and would not let go for about 10mins once I got him home clean him up and got to the vet found out the bites gave him a infraction in his ear but cost me £66.45 would I not be able to claim it back from the other dogs owner as it was his dogs that attack my one and am on benefit so could not even afford this and there no PDSA were I live

    • safepets uk says:

      Unfortunately a dog on dog attack is still not covered by the DDA. You could take a civil case against the owner under the original Dogs Act. I’d report it to the police and your local dog warden.. If you know where the owner lives, get a copy of the vet be, write a covering letter and take copies to their house.

    • safepets uk says:

      You’d have to take a civil case against the owner. Report this to the dog warden, there might be other victims. Unless you were threatened by the dogs, police can’t act.

  5. Mary says:

    Hi,, I’d like to put Down on regards to a neighbours dog. That stays across the road from myself. Which is a black dog, and pretty huge. (I not know the type of dog this is). I have a year and half old mixed breed which is a lab/springer dog. Before our dog was a year old when I was taken him out. This big dog suddenly started to try attack my wee Max. (Which the owner did have it on leash,, however,, due to how big/huge this dog is,, the owner struggles to with being able to handle this dog!). When this dog tried to attack my dog,, I could see the owner was struggling with handling there dog. Max did growl and bark back to the dog. But, recently the owners son has been seen taken this dog out and with out having it on a leash! Which is rather worrying! And today early morning the owner was out with this dog and on leash. And my daughter had max out. And again the owner was really struggling to keep this dog from trying to again attack my dog. To which I am very concerned and also worried by this, incase one day she is not able to handle the dog and gets free and to try go for my dog, and also is worrie due to her son who takes dog out with out him putting the dog on a Leah when walking him. Thank you.

    • safepets uk says:

      I’d start with your dog warden and complain that the dog is dog aggressive and not under proper control. If the person is renting the home, contact their landlord or agent too and let them know there is a problem. It only becomes a Police matter if the behaviour genuinely causes a person to feel they are likely to be bitten. Good luck

  6. Johnny K says:

    My fiancee and Jack Russell were attacked by a bull terrier last year and they both suffered injuries as well as emotional trauma. I reported the incident to the Police and a court date is set for this month. Since the incident, the owner has got in contact with me and is offering to cover the vets cost as well as any other cost incurred, I’m unsure what I should do as it’s now a matter for the procurator fiscal…

  7. Jason wilkinson says:

    I have a 19 week old lurched border collie cross , he has a lovely temperament and just wants to play … however twice now he has been bitten by a small terrier who’s owner An old women has her dog on a fully extended lead and allows it to attack my puppy , the lead crossed the foot path I am walking along and she makes no attempt to retract the lead…. I am raging… a one off might be acceptable but twice in a month ? And it will happen ever time I pass along the path if she is out with her dog and the path is a public walkway and my only means to get home from my girlfriends house .

    • safepets uk says:

      Start by reporting to Dog Warden. If you find out her address and she is in sheltered or council accommodation, tell them to. However it might be worth going without your dog and speaking to her and explaining what the problem is. If she then doesn’t stop it, you have to report it.

  8. iain ferguson says:

    My daughters 6 month old puppy was playing with my son in the back garden when it got attacked and killed by a staffy … My daughter is heart broken as are we all, is there a way to claim back compensation for my daughter as she saved up birthdays and christmas’s to buy the puppy

    We are all heart broken and dont know what to do can someone help

    • safepets uk says:

      In most cases a dog on dog incident is civil and police can’t help. This was a terrible thing to happen and I hop you at least reported this to the dog warden. If a person was injured or reasonably feels that they could have been when the attack took place then it is a police matter and in dealing with that, either the court or the out of court police agreement can include compensation.

      • iain ferguson says:

        Since this incident took place the police have been out to charge the owner under the dangerous dog act. Also the dog wardens have been trying to gain access to the property to inspect the dog but haven’t been allowed access of yet. The police have said it will go to court

        The most disturbing fact about the incident for me was the owner of the dog was actually holding it on the lead and done nothing to stop the horrific attack,

      • safepets uk says:

        How awful. Have you given a statement to police yet. I am glad police are acting on this. Dog wardens have few powers, really the police should go see the dog if they are seriously considering a court summons for this.

  9. iain ferguson says:

    Yes a statement has been given to the police by my 9 year old son who witnessed the attack

    • safepets uk says:

      Poor child. Good luck, stick to your guns over police action. Compensation should also be considered for the trauma to you both. If this owner has insurance, you can make a civil claim for compensation once police action finished.

  10. S begbie says:

    My dog s were atacked and. Needed vetnary treatment the police said it was not dangerous dog it was out on its own wwhat can I do

    • safepets uk says:

      If this was dog on dog and a person was not injured, then it is civil and police won’t act. You should speak to the dog warden and report it to the. The Dog Warden can issue orders to owner, if they can find out who it is.

  11. Keith rodger says:

    My dog has been attached twice on a month slashing its face and don’t no what to do my dog is a staffie cross he’s a cuddle y kind of dog with a great mature. The other dosent get walked and its also had pups. Which have need given out to other neighbors. Iam sick of bad owners

    • safepets uk says:

      Report your incidents to Dog Warden. They can issue orders to owners. Police can only intervene if a person is injured or genuinely could have been. Many don’t tell Dog Warden and it can be difficult for them to act unless all reports are sent to them.

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