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Taking a stand against dangerous dogs

View profile for Danielle Callaway
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Can I claim compensation after being attacked by a dog?

Last week, two people were arrested and 15 dogs were seized after a fatal attack was carried out by what is thought to be an XL bully breed dog in Leigh. The 37 year old male victim was killed by the dog at a house in Leigh on 18th May 2023. The dog was ultimately shot dead by armed police as it was dangerously out of control and could not be subdued any other way.

This attack came just ten days after another severe dog attack in the Wigan area where a man and woman were left with potentially life-changing injuries. Again, police had to seize the dog as it was dangerously out of control. The breed of this dog has not been made public.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes it illegal to own certain breeds of dog and also creates an offence for allowing any dog to become dangerously out of control, which could mean injuring someone or even making someone feel under threat of being injured. The act specifically bans ownership of Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and File Barilerio breeds. However, the act also covers cross-breeds of any of the above types of dog. Dangerous dogs are classified by their own individual characteristics, rather than their breed, and whether they match the description of a prohibited “type”. Sanctions under this act can include fines, imprisonment, being banned from owning a dog and your dog being destroyed.

The Animals Act 1971 also imposes a civil liability on the keeper of an animal for damage caused by a dangerous species. There is also a liability for damage caused by an animal which is not usually dangerous but is able to cause harm, had an unusual characteristic which made it likely to cause severe harm and that characteristic was known to the keeper at the time. This act allows you to potentially seek compensation for your injuries if you are harmed by a dog (or other animal), although it is not always easy to prove liability in these cases, especially if there is no evidence that the dog has caused harm (or tried to cause harm) before.

It is clear from recent events in our local area that these pieces of legislation perhaps do not do enough to prevent severe dog attacks. More needs to be done to prevent ownership of dangerous breeds and to prevent breeding of these dangerous animals. There has been a recent spate of tragic events such as this one across the UK, involving fatal injuries to both adults and children. One can only hope that the legislation in place goes far enough to allow the loved ones of those killed in these attacks to seek the justice that they deserve.