04 September, 2013
The tenant in question had previously signed an Acceptable Behaviour Contract with One Housing Group agreeing to keep their dog on a lead and muzzled whilst they were in public. One Housing Group were forced to take further action against the tenant since he failed to comply with the conditions of the Acceptable Behaviour Contract.
One Housing Group faced a tough dilemma as the case was not serious enough to justify the use of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 but action still needed to be taken to protect members of the public from what One Housing Group perceived to be a significant risk. One Housing Group sought specialist advice and were advised that they could apply for a dog control order under Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871.
Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 states that:
"Any court of summary jurisdiction may take cognizance of a complaint that a dog is dangerous, and not kept under proper control, and if it appears to the court having cognizance (knowledge) of such complaint that such dog is dangerous, the court may make an order in a summary way directing the dog to be kept by the owner under proper control or destroyed…"
One Housing Group were able to put together witness statements detailing the tenant's careless attitude towards keeping the dog under control and accounts of the dog being seen off the lead and behaving aggressively. The witness statements, a copy of Section 2 Dogs Act 1871 and guidance on the use of Section 2 were presented to the Magistrates Court to assess with a view of granting an order under Section 2 Dogs Act 1871.
After considering the application, the Magistrate granted a dog control order compelling the dog to be muzzled and kept on a lead whilst being walked. The order operates in a similar way to an injunction as it requires the Defendant to behave in a certain way.
If the tenant breaches the order they will be guilty of a criminal offence which could result in a fine of up to £1,000, the dog being seized and the tenant prohibited from owning another pet for 5 years.
Following a number of tragic incidents over the last couple of years, the issue of dangerous dogs has become a high profile matter. One Housing Group sought specialist advice early enough in order for them to take preventative action against what they saw as a significant risk.
By using the provisions available under the Dogs Act 1871, One Housing Group did not have to meet the stringent criteria required to make an order under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This enabled them to take steps to protect the safety of other tenants with the knowledge that if the tenant breaches the order they will be guilty of a criminal offence.