Disclaimer: The information below serves as a primer on the legal considerations that you can use if you or your child is bitten by a dog, and isn’t meant to act as a substitute for traditional legal advice. It would be best for you to contact a licensed lawyer as soon as either you or your child have physically recovered from any injuries resulting from getting bitten by a dog.
You might be the type of parent who wants your child to experience for themselves the joys of playing outdoors like when you were their age, and there wasn’t any Internet or video games yet to pass the time. So you and your child find yourselves spending most of your weekends together outside of your house and playing a few games until both of you get exhausted. But while you’re both in the middle of one of your outdoor games, a stray dog suddenly bites either you or your child and ultimately ruins what was a fun day. If you or your child got bit by a dog, here are some legal considerations that you should take note:
1. The UK Parliament first introduced the Dangerous Dogs Act more than two decades ago to address the several deaths caused by dog bites before its implementation.
After a six-year-old child got bit by a pit bull terrier in 1991, the UK Parliament took action by enforcing the Dangerous Dogs Act.
- If either you or your child is bitten by a dog, its owner could face up to five years in prison under the Dangerous Dogs Act for the injuries that their pet had caused you even if it was on a leash when the dog bite incident occurred.
- You and your lawyer do not need to prove that the owner of the dog that bit either you or your child displayed negligence in handling their pet or had any intention of causing harm.
2. The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires a dog owner to ensure that their pet is wearing a collar or tag containing their name and address whenever they’re walking in a public place.
A year after the implementation of the Dangerous Dogs Act, another piece of legislation known as the Control of Dogs Order 1992 made it compulsory for almost all dogs to have proper identification so that they can be easily tracked back to their rightful owners in case they become stray.
- If the dog that bit either you or your child isn’t wearing any collar or tag and its owner is eventually identified, they – that is, the dog owner – can be held liable under the Control of Dogs Order 1992 wherein the local authorities would seize their pet.
- However, there are exceptions made to some dogs in the Control of Dogs Order 1992 in which case the next legal consideration might help you file a compensation claim against their owner.
3. The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 entails a dog owner to have their pet implanted with a microchip for further identification purposes.
Aside from an owner of a dog making their pet wear a collar or tag with their name and address on it to comply with the Control of Dogs Order 1992, they have to also make their pets have a more technologically advanced method of animal tagging known as microchipping.
- Under a relatively new piece of legislation known as the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015, a dog owner should have their pet implanted with a microchip that contains their updated personal information and contact details.
- If the dog that bit either you or your child doesn’t have a microchip implanted in it, but is wearing an identification collar or tag, the local authorities will return the said animal to its owner and issue them a notice mandating them to have their pet microchipped within 21 days.
- On the other hand, if the dog that bit either you or your child has a microchip embedded in it, but its owner forgot to update their details in the database where they previously had their pet registered, you can have them taken to court and make them pay steep fines and a victim surcharge.
4. Public Space Protection Orders – or PSPOs – place some restrictions for all dog owners whenever they have to walk their pets in certain public areas.
Even if not every square inch of public space has one, those that do have Public Space Protection Orders limit dog owners to keeping their pets on a leash at all times, not walk more than four of their pets at a time, and clean any mess that their pets might make. If a dog had bitten either you or your child in a public area that’s covered by Public Spaces Protection Orders, you can make its owner pay a fine ranging from a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 up to £1,000 if ever you decide to take them to court.
According to the World Health Organization, more than ten million incidents of dog bites occur annually all over the world. Estimates in the United Kingdom alone also suggest that for every 100,000 persons, more than 700 of them get bitten by dogs every year. You wouldn’t want either you or your child to be part of any of those two sets of statistics. Thus, aside from seeking medical attention for the injuries that either you or your child received after getting bitten by a dog, you should take a look at the above-listed legal considerations and hire a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.