3 Clause 1: Dog attacks on assistance
20. Clause 1(6) amends the Dangerous Dogs Act
1991 to equate an attack on an assistance dog with an attack on
a person, an approach we recommended in our previous report.
The Guide Dogs Association told us that there are more
than eight dog attacks on assistance dogs a month.
It considered that this measure would, "more than any other,
have the greatest impact on reducing the number of guide dogs
that are attacked by other dogs".
Both ACPO and the Guide Dogs Association considered it appropriate,
in the light of the likely significant impact on the daily life
of the owner, for such offences to apply not only when an injury
was inflicted but, as proposed in the draft Bill, when there was
apprehension the assistance dog could be injured.
However, ACPO considered that whether a particular case was pursued
should depend on individual circumstances so that the proportionality
of taking action could be considered.
21. The draft Bill adopts the definition of assistance
dogs used in the Equalities Act 2010. The Guide Dogs Association
considered that this could open the measure to abuse since a dog
is merely required to have received some form of training to qualify
as an assistance dog. The Association noted that there had been
so many instances of people attempting to pass off their dogs
as assistance dogs in order to circumvent restrictions on taking
dogs into, for example, restaurants or supermarkets that it had
issued passes to all of its trained assistance dogs.
The Association sought a tighter definition, requiring a dog to
have received training from an accredited body.
22. We support the extension
of offences under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to
attacks on assistance dogs as well as people. However, an assistance
dog should, for the purposes of this Bill, be defined as a dog
which has been accredited to assist a disabled person by a prescribed
charity or organisation.
23. We did not have the opportunity to examine
the wider potential for the Equalities Act definition of an assistance
dog to permit misuse of concessions granted to owners of assistance
dogs but the relevant Government departments should consider whether
it would be appropriate to amend it in light of concerns from
the Guide Dogs Association.
Dog attacks on protected animals
24. The draft Bill does not extend offences to
attacks on animals other than assistance dogs. A range of civil
remedies exist for dog attacks on animals, including the Dogs
Act 1871 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989. These require a civil
burden of proof but the remedies available are more limited than
sanctions available under criminal law. Criminal prosecutions
may be brought against those whose dog attacks a protected animal
under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 ,
and under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
25. Some witnesses, including some dog welfare
charities and ACPO,
recommended that clause 1 should apply to all protected animals,
such as horses, livestock and llamas.
ACPO told us that current legislation leaves enforcement agencies
"without adequate legislation to deal swiftly and proportionately
with attacks by dogs on other animals".
Applying clause 1 to all protected animals would remove the need
for some civil remedies, such as those under the Dogs Act 1871,
and make it easier to consolidate the law since the DDA provisions
would then apply to any attack by a dog on a human or protected
ACPO considered that an attack must be aggravated (i.e. physical
injury inflicted) before any offence would be deemed to have been
committed so as to "keep the issue manageable with regard
to enforcement" and make the measure "clear and unambiguous".
26. Extending Dangerous Dogs Act offences to
all protected animals has the practical benefit of allowing a
range of civil and criminal dog laws to be consolidated, giving
enforcement officers a clear set of powers applicable to a dog
attack on any livestock or domesticated animal. However, it would
be disproportionate to define as an offence an incident where
there was merely apprehension that a protected animal might be
attacked. Furthermore, it would not be appropriate, save in reference
to an assistance dog, if the tariff applicable on conviction for
an offence on a protected animal were equal to that awarded for
an attack on a person. We
recommend that Defra, in commissioning work from the Law Commission
on consolidation as recommended in our previous report, request
that the Commission examine the potential to extend the law to
an attack which causes injury to any protected animal. Defra should
also liaise with the Sentencing Council to consider what level
of penalty it would be appropriate to impose upon anyone convicted
of such an offence.
23 EFRA Committee, Dog Control and Welfare, para
Ev 15 Back
As above Back
Q 26 Back
Q 28 Back
Q 30 Back
Q30 Richard Leaman. The Guide Dogs Association proposed that
secondary regulation should determine a list of prescribed organisations.
Assistance Dogs International (www.assistancedogsinternational.org/)
and International Guide Dogs Federation (www.igdf.org.uk/) operate
an accreditation process which ensures that operational standards
for assistance dogs are maintained to a recognised benchmark
See for example RSPCA, Prosecutions Department Annual Report
2013, April 2013. www.rspca.org.uk Back
Q 77 Back
Section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 defines an animal as
protected if a) it is of a kind which is commonly domesticated
in the British Islands, b) it is under the control of man whether
on a permanent or temporary basis, or c) it is not living in a
wild state Back
EFRA Committee, Dog Control and Welfare, Ev 89 Back
Q 34 Back
Q 31 Back