As the owner or carer of a dog you need to exert Reasonable Care, especially when taking a dog for a walk, on or near a road.
The Highway Codes Rule 56 explains; A dog cannot be out on the road on its own, it MUST be in the care of an appropriate adult and kept on a short lead. A public highway meaning a Pavement, a Road or Path including Bridleways. Any place shared with the public, cyclist horseriders etc.
Reasonable care taken from (thefreedictionary.com) is:
the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordin arily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances. This is a subjective test of determining if a person is negligent, meaning he/she did not exercise reasonable care.
You should be aware of the laws, and also your dog’s behaviour. You should have the relevant knowledge and understanding. Quite a lot of responsibility.
The term ‘Reasonable Care’ is commonly used in law to give an indication of a standard allowing the variation of circumstances an element of flexibility.
A Level of care in specific circumstances is expected but not an absolute, therefore allowing for consideration not demanding a set criterion to be fulfilled.
An Example would be; If your dog cuts his leg whilst on his morning walk, you have a duty of care towards your dog to keep him healthy.
Whilst you are expected to take the dog to a Vet, it would be advised that you also take a Canine First Aid course so you can be better prepared for emergencies. This would show reasonable care. However as the owner of the dog you are not required by law to do so.
If you are a business who walks dogs for money, you are now by law required to have a Canine/Pet First Aid certificate.
If your Garden backs onto a road, you must ensure that the fence is adequate and escape proof. This is reasonable care.
You would however be excused liability if your garden had a public right of access and a rambler left the gate open. This is the same for Sheep, Cattle and Horses.
The Highway Code rule 56 says: Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists, horse riders, and pedestrians. This includes bridleways.
The Road Traffic ACT 1988 section 27 Control of Dogs on Road says: Anyone who allows a dog to be on a designated road without being held on a lead, is guilty of an offence.
A designated road here means a length of road specified by an order on behalf of the local authority in whose area the length of road is situated. This could include a park.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 specifies that all dogs should be kept under control by the owner, or whoever is in charge of the dog at that time. Reasonable care must be taken to ensure the dog does not cause injury or damage by straying onto a road.
The person walking a dog must also be deemed able to control it. For example: A 50kg Rottweiler escapes from the control of a 5-year-old child and causes a road accident. As the keeper of the dog in this instance is a child, the parent would be liable as reasonable care had not been taken to prevent the dog from escaping.
Exemptions to leash laws: It does not apply to any pack of hounds, or any dog being used for sporting purposes. Any dog being used for the capture or destruction of vermin. Any dog while being used for the herding of cattle or sheep. Any dog being used in rescue work, or any dog registered with the guide dog for the blind association. Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of the police or armed forces. However the dog must be actively engaged in this duty at the time, and not just out for a walk with his owner.
Accidents involving Dogs
If you hit a dog with your car, you must stop, try to locate the owner or contact the police. If a member of the public or the owner asks you for your name, address and contact details in relation to the incident, you must tell them. If you do not give your details you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
You must do this whether the animal was killed or injured or not, and you must do this for Dogs, Horses, Cattle, Pigs, Goats, Sheep, Donkeys and Mules……….But this does not apply to Cats!
There are exclusions to the rules which are dependent on the vehicle classification. Exceptions under Section 189 of the Highways act are:
Mechanically propelled vehicles for the purpose of cutting grass controlled by a pedestrian, and not capable of modification for another purpose. E.g. a lawnmower
Any propelled vehicle controlled by a pedestrian as stated under section 140 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. (E.g.
Electric bicycles as per the regulation and power output) including mobility scooters.
If the dog is carried within or on the propelled vehicle
We have a Legal duty to clean up after our dog, unless you are registered blind of course. So you are duty bound to pick up any mess your dog leaves in all public spaces. This is to stop the spread of disease. Failing to do so can lead to an on the spot fine, which can cost £75 and you could be taken to court if you persist.
In court you can face up to £1000 fine plus legal expenses.
Dog Faeces can carry parasites which can cause the spread of disease, some of these infectious parasites can carry harmful infections to humans like Toxocariasis. (NHS UK) says:
“Toxocariasis is a rare infection caused by roundworm parasites. Humans can catch it from handling soil or sand contaminated with infected animal faeces. Roundworm parasites are most commonly found in cats, dogs and foxes, and usually affect young children. This is because children are more likely to come into contact with contaminated soil when they play and put their hands in their mouths. However, cases have been reported in people of all ages”.
Some spaces are exempt from liability these include Agricultural Land, Woodland, Rural Common Land, Marshland and Heath land, and on highways with a speed limit of 50mph or over.
Bins are provided by the council for you to place the used bag into, However where there are no bins available, you are to carry the bag(s) home with you and put it in to your own dustbin.
Estimates put the UK dog population between 6.5 and 7.4 million, producing 1,000 tonnes of faeces every day says Keep Britain Tidy.
PSPO (public space protection order)
Under recent legislation, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Local authorities were passed powers to produce Public Space Protection Orders; these include Dog Control and behaviour.
Parks and recreational areas, Shopping Centres stipulate that dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Other orders include No more than 4 dogs walked at a time, clear up any faeces, and carry poo bags. Do not enter certain parts of the area, like a play park.
The Public Space Protection Orders are usually found in parks, and places where there are children and a high volume of people, it also includes Farmland.
These spaces are well signed at the entrance.
Local councils must let the public know where PSPOs are in place. This information is usually found on their website.
If dogs are not allowed in a park, there must be signs saying so.
If the council plans to put a new PSPO in place, They must put up a notice and publish it on their website. It will tell you where the PSPO will apply and show you a map of the area.
For not adhering to these PSPO’s you can be fined £100 on the spot (a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’) or up to £1,000 if it goes to court.
There are exemptions to the order;
It does not apply to any pack of hounds, or any dog being used for sporting purposes. Any dog being used for the capture or destruction of vermin. Any dog while being used for the herding of cattle or sheep. Any dog being used in rescue work, or any dog registered with the guide dog for the blind association. Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of the police or armed forces. However the dog must be actively engaged in this duty at the time, and not just out for a walk with his owner.
Reasonable Care is required when driving with a Dog(s) in your car; they must be suitably restrained in a dog harness, crate, or a Dog Guard between you and them so as to avoid any distractions, injury to yourself or the dog(s) if you have to stop suddenly. (Rule 57 of The Highway Code).
If you are driving along a Motorway towing a Horse trailer or a large vehicle transporting animals, you cannot use the Right Hand Lane. Your maximum speed limit is 60mph.
If your Car breaks down on the Motorway and you have animals/dogs in the car, you must NOT let them out of the car. Unless directed to do so by a police officer. If you are involved in an accident they must be properly restrained if removed from the vehicle and must stay on the side of the road out of the way of traffic until help comes.
(The Motorways Traffic (England & Wales) Regulations 1982), section 14, contains the rules governing the handling of animals on motorways.
Under this act, it is an offence to remove or permit an animal to leave a vehicle whilst the vehicle is on the motorway. It is also an offence to allow the dog to escape from the vehicle, or be removed from the vehicle. If the vehicle needs to be evacuated for safety reasons The dog must be kept only on the motorway verge, on a suitable lead under proper control whilst you wait for assistance.
(Liam Deacon) (12.4.2019) wrote in (The Daily Star) ‘Pet dog dies after ‘leaping from car window on M5 motorway’ Sadly the owner had the dog in the front seat, unsecured and the window of the car was open, the dog jumped out whilst they were travelling at speed and was killed by oncoming traffic.
The rules apply to all animals, including those being towed on a trailer, like livestock or horses. Any person in charge and responsible for the animals at the time of an incident must obey the rules. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.
Animals being herded on a road or country lane should be kept under control at all times. Ideally with someone at the front of the herd warning oncoming traffic and someone at the back keeping the herd moving forward. It is best to herd during daylight hours but if you have to do it when it is dark, wear reflective clothing. The person at the front should hold a white light and the person at the back should use a red one so that any traffic can see them from both directions. For more information see Rule 58 of the Highway Code