Small Dog Home Boarding

Reporting accidents involving dogs

UK DOG LAW

  • What is reasonable care?
  • Reporting accidents involving dogs
  • When is a lead necessary
  • Fouling of footways, public open spaces
  • Motorway rules
  • Public Space Protection Orders

 

Reasonable Care 

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 kept on a short lead, when walking on a pavement and this includes any road or path shared with cyclists, pedestrians or horse riders. So this can also mean Bridleways. 

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. 

Therefore saying you should be aware of the laws, and 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 on barbed wire 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 do a Canine First Aid course so you can be better prepared for emergencies like this whilst out on walks. 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, so that your dog cannot escape onto the road.  Reasonable Care must be exercised to show you are maintaining the fence and therefore taking precautions.  You would however be excused liability if you garden had a public right of access and a rambler left the gate open. This is the same for Sheep, Cattle and Horses. 

Another example:  If a dog is well trained by its owner and is contained within garden.  The boundaries are not in pristine condition and well below 6ft in height. This dog never breaches the boundaries despite the condition and easy access to the main road, which is maintained by the highways agency. This would show reasonable care is taken, due to the training and zero issues in the past.

Leash Laws

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 or horse riders. This includes bridleways. 

An example from as recent as this morning shows why it is necessary to keep your dog on a lead when walking on a public highway: I am driving down a country lane, no road markings or pavements, so I am only travelling around 20 miles per hour as I know there are horses, people and Livestock possibly around every corner.  I see the hazard as I turn around the corner. A King Charles Spaniel walking down the road with his owner off lead, I slowed down, because the lady saw my car coming and I watched as she walked the dog, with her legs into the side of the road. Of course being off lead and shoved onto a grass embankment with his owners feet, is a sure sign the dog will try to escape the situation. The dog ran into the road, but was unhurt as I was travelling slow enough to stop easily. but the lady did not understand that she had broken any laws and laid the blame entirely at my feet. Always have a copy of the Highway Code in your car, just for instances like these.

The Road Traffic ACT 1988 section 27 Control of Dogs on Road, also says it is an offence to allow a dog to be on a designated road without being held of a lead, is guilty of an offence. A designated road here is 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. Which will be discussed later.

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 on a road, and 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 if a 50kg Rottweiler escapes from the control of a 5-year-old child and causes a road accident, then the owner 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 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 regulation and power output) including mobility scooter.
  • If the dog is carried within or on the propelled vehicle

An example is a man driving down the road, a dog runs into the road quite unexpectedly, the driver breaks, but hits the dog. The Dog is fine, it leaps up and runs off, a passer by knows the dog in question and asks the man for his name and address, insurance details so that the owner can contact him if needed.  The driver did not want to give his details to the passer by as the dog appeared to be uninjured. The Driver left the scene and contacted the police when he got home and explained the situation and answered all questions.

This has protected the man from prosecution should the owner call the police the next day attempting to report a hit and run.

Dog Fouling

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 and there 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 infections 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, it must put up a notice and publish it on its 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 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, not just out for a walk with his owner.

Example: A dog and his owner walking through a park play area, with his dog, off lead when there is a sign prohibiting dogs from entering the play area, and advice of fines with non compliance of rules.  The owner is an off duty police man and his dog is a sniffer/drug dog who is also off duty at the time of entering the park play area.  They are stopped by the local inspector and they are issued a penalty notice for the offence.

Motorway & Driving

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 or involved in an accident and they are properly restrained. 

(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. 

Example I am driving down the motor way, my dog is in the front seat, she has no seatbelt on, the window is open and the dog has its head out of the window. In the back, I have another dog, this is separated from the front of the car by a dog guard, this dog is clipped on to a carabiner clip via his harness.  The Highway Patrol flashes and sounds behind me, I pull over at my earliest and safest convenience.  Now I am on the hard shoulder.  The police inform me of the potential accidents that could happen and charges for careless driving or even worse, dangerous driving, the penalty of which attracts not just a custodial sentence but also a mandatory disqualification of at least twelve months. The dog in the back, restrained with a harness and the dog guard is perfectly legal, but to allow my dog into the front seat of a car without restraints and then allow her to put her head out of the window whilst travelling at speed in a car is an offence. 

(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. https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/pet-dog-dies-hit-car-17115873

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