There is specific legislation concerned with the control of dangerous dogs but there are also many other problems concerned with any kind of dog in the local authority such as dog mess or dogs not been kept on leads in local public areas.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act provides local authorities with the power to make an order providing for an offence or offences relating to the control of dogs in respect to any land which the act applies to.
This is termed a dog control order.
Dog Control Orders
Under the Act an offence relates to the control of dogs if it is in relation to one of the following activities and can therefore be the subject of a dog control order:
- The fouling of land by dogs and the removal of dog faeces
- The keeping of dogs on leads
- The exclusion of dogs from land
- The number of dogs which a person may take on to any land
Examples of these kinds of orders would be in relation to making sure dogs are kept on leads when on the roads and also making sure that dogs are excluded from certain areas of local parks – i.e. the playing fields where sport takes place.
Who can make a dog control order?
According to the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act the following primary and secondary authorities are able to make dog control orders:
The following are Primary Authorities:
- A district council in England;
- A county council in England for an area for which there is no district council;
- A London borough council;
- The Common Council of the City of London;
- The Council of the Isles of Scilly;
- A county or county borough council in Wales
The following are all Secondary Authorities:
- A parish council in England;
- A community council in Wales
- Land to which Dog Control Orders can be applied
Examples of the kind of land which can be subject to dog control orders are as follows:
- Lands such as playgrounds and play areas which are likely to be used by children
- Land where dogs could affect the enjoyment of others using an area of land , such as a park that is used by people to enjoy a picnic
- Sports fields where organised sports take place on a regular basis
- Section 57 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act states that it shall apply to any land which is open to the air and to which the public are allowed to have access to without payment. This is therefore a broad definition of land.
Exemptions to Dog Control Orders
Certain types of land cannot be covered by some or all of the Dog Control Orders. This includes certain Forestry Commission designated land and applies in respect of all Dog Control Orders and roads in respect from a Dog Control Order banning all dogs from that land.
An individual who infringes a Dog Control Order will be liable to a penalty of a minimum fine of £1,000 if convicted in court.
Fixed Penalty Notice
Where the local authority has been able to identify and individual as having breached a dog control order the local council can serve on him a fixed penalty notice requiring immediate payment without being subject to a conviction in court.
While the individual is subject to the fixed penalty notice no criminal proceedings can be brought against him for 14 days after he has become subject to the notice or if he pays the notice. If he does not pay the notice then criminal convictions can be brought.
Section 59 of the Act states that the local authority can specify the amount of the fixed penalty. If this is not done the standard fixed penalty will be £75.
Dog Control Orders (Procedures) Regulations 2006
The Dog Control Orders (Procedures) Regulations came into force in 2006 and are designed to work alongside the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Regulations.
Specifically they deal with the procedures put in place before and after a local authority makes a dog control order.
Procedures before a Dog Control Order
According to the regulations a local authority should do the following before making a dog control order:
- Consult upon its proposal to make the order by publishing a notice of that proposal in a local newspaper circulating in the area in which the land in respect of which the order would apply is situated
- Consult every other Authority having power under section 55 of the Act to make a dog control order in respect of all or part of which the dog control order may apply
Procedures after a Dog Control Order
According to the regulations the local authority should do the following, not less than seven days after making a dog control order:
- Place signs summarising the order in conspicuous positions on or near the land in respect of which it applies
- Publish, in a local newspaper a notice that the order has been made and stating the place at which it may be inspected and copies of it obtained
- Make the information available on its website
- Send the information to every other Authority having power to make a dog control order in respect of all or part of the land in respect of which the order applies