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Monday, 31 October 2011

Where does the law stand on dogs biting humans?


I'm wondering if anyone has any experience of being charged with their dog being dangerously out of control in a public place and injuring a person? My dog and the dog next door got into a fight on the pavement outside our houses. Whilst we were breaking up the fight my dog redirected and bit my neighbour's daughter on the shoulder. They've reported me to the police.

I'm very worried that they will order her to be destroyed as she has injured a person, albeit unintentionally. If anyone has any personal experience of this I would really appreciate some advice.

Many thanks
Name and address supplied


  1. Contact Trevor Cooper he is the UK best solicitor for animal/dog law and deals with cases like this daily. I would THINK because it was during the cause of breaking up a dog fight where both dogs were off lead you can claime it was provoked and the fact that you already have a behaviourist employed will go in your favour, common sence should dictate a leient sentense of just being muzzled in public but Trevor will be able to advise you fully. Wishing you all the luck in the world.. having large dogs myself I always live in fear of something like this happening so truely can empathise!
    All the best, Sarah and Pack x

  2. I would first suggest contacting Trevor Cooper as you have been given a summonds. Also speak to your behaviourist as they would be able to give a statement on your behalf. Maybe ask for a referal to Kendal Shepherd.

    I would assume that if someone deliberately went in to break up a dog fight they should accept some responsibility for getting bitten. That would be like trying to break up a pub brawl and not expecting a fist to fly! Was the skin broken and did the injury need hospital treatment? If not then you have a stronger case. Also are you 100% sure it was your dog who did the biting and not the terrier?

    As the JRT antagonises your dog and your neighbours have in the past been happy to fuss your dog I think that this will help your case. But I am not an expert in DDA. I don't think that a distruction order will be placed on your dog as this is a first instance and you are already having assistance with her problems, it is more likely you will get an order that says she must be neutered if not already and muzzled in public.

    As you have always been on good terms with your neighbours have you been able to speak to them about this? It does seem a bit harsh that they have gone straight to the police without consulting you.

  3. Our dog has the exact same problem... he's a 2 year old JRT/Collie X... we rescued him in March. He is very temperamental with other dogs but has a beautiful temperament with people.

    I'm just wondering why on earth the dogs were both off lead when you have said you know your dog dislikes your neighbours dog? We are very cautious when taking our dog off lead and will only do so when we know there are no other dogs around or we have plenty of time to get him back on lead before a problem arises. We time our walks in specific places where we know we will have minimal contact with other dogs. Our dog socialises in obedience and agility classes but in our time with him it's us and him.

    Sorry to seem negative but I'm at a loss as to what to say when you knew the problem was there.

  4. Thea Beckhelling DipCABT CAPBT31 October 2011 at 15:01

    Oh Rachael how distressing :( You need some expert advice as dog law is very complicated. Contact Trevor Cooper, he is an expert in this very subject and gives seminars to dog professionals too. I hope he can help you, good luck x

  5. I would contact a legal person who specialises in dog law, the only one I can think of would be Trevor Cooper.

    The thing to focus on here is that your dog did not bite unprovoked - redirected aggression is pretty well understood and documented, it was just as likely that their dog could have redirected and bitten you, or them (or your dog could have bitten you).

    That is the angle I would take, legally, because no one getting involved in breaking up fighting dogs could reasonably expect to be completely safe from accidental injury.

    I think it exceedingly unlikely that the police would order your dog to be destroyed, and your neighbours as far as I am aware CANNOT request that, it is up to the courts to decide. Since (presumably) there has been no previous history, and you will (presumably) take sufficient steps to prevent it occurring in future, there shouldn't be a problem.

  6. Hi there

    It sounds like an awful situation to be in and unfortunately I can't help but know of a lawyer who advises a lot of people in relation to dog bites. If I was you I would give her a call and see where you stand straight away.

    All the best to you and the dog.

  7. Thea Beckhelling BSc. DipCABT1 November 2011 at 10:44

    Dog law is such a complicated business with many strange in's and outs, you really do need specialist advice.
    Trevor Cooper is a Solicitor specialising in Dog law with many years of experience. I recently attended one of his seminars
    as a CPD event and thought he was brilliant. You can contact him through his website

    I do hope he can help and wish you and your dog the very best.

  8. I am not a legal mind, but if a person puts their arm in to break up a fight, I would suspect it is their own fault, not the dog's. The dog obviously didn't mean to bite a person, but if you put your hand in the way it will get bitten. Therefore, I would suspect you shouldn't have to worry as you didn't ask the person to break them up - although anyone who loves their dogs could well do the same thing. I did read that the majority of human bites come from owners trying to break the fight up. I would say its 50/50 and just one of those things - it happens. I think I'm correct in saying, most dog fights are sqaubbles with a nip here and there and it only gets worse if a human intervenes. But get real legal advice.