I returned to doing Court Expert Witness work last year after relocating centrally. I feel strongly that dogs involved in bite incidents need full assessment and support. Owners can easily be misled or misinformed by Police and other owners and a dog’s life could be at risk. What exactly do Expert Witnesses do? Here’s an explanation:
The Dangerous Dogs Act covers not just dog bites, but also “reasonable apprehension” of a bite. If your dog behaves in a manner that means that a person fears being bitten, you have still broken the law. Since the May 2014 update, the DDA also now applies on private property.
A court Expert Witness is an experienced professional in a specific field. Our job is to assess the dog, people and environment to provide a report for court. We all do our work slightly differently, my version is also based on 30 years experience of retraining dogs with problems. Fast action on your part could mean the Police won’t be granted a seizure warrant and the defence can show that you took the incident seriously and acted immediately.
When I am contacted by an owner, this is the process
- I gather all the information about the dog and the incident and give initial advice
- I send via email a sheet of suggestions for action you can take now, references, equipment, how to answer police enquiries
- I explain my fees, what my role is and what the outcomes could be
- I email a contract to the owner if they book an assessment and visit ASAP
- I provide ongoing assistance, including dealing with Police or other authorities
- I aim to get an out of court resolution where possible
- If the police have already visited, or spoken to the owner, I call and explain I have been engaged and will be dealing with the case
- If the case goes to court, as Expert, I attend and give evidence in support of my report.
- Where time allows, I set in place a behaviour improvement plan, delaying submission of the report until owners have had a chance to show the dog can be retrained successfully
You should get proper advice as soon as there is a problem, don’t use social media, take action as fast as you can. In a few cases my prompt action has stopped dogs being seized. In numerous cases, early action has resulted in an out of court agreement. Don’t wait to be told what to do, the courts need to see you have taken this seriously and taken immediate action to prevent it happening again.
The inclusion of private property in the DDA law means you can also be prosecuted for incidents on your property. Most of the work now is helping owners whose dogs bit or threatened visitors. It is up to you to protect your dog and ensure a visitor cannot be hurt, no matter how many warnings or instruction you give that visitor. If you are not sure of your dog’s reaction or you dog looks unhappy, put your dog out of the way.
Call for advice or help or send us a message or email directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Read one of my successful appeals here, a Labrador with a destruction order on him
Or see the new website mydoghasbitten.uk
Call Debbie Connolly, SafePets UK 0208 1445799 or 0115 8883334 or make an enquiry here