In the last 24 hours a 17-month-old girl has tragically died after being attacked by a dog at her family home.
It is not yet known whether the animal was a banned breed of dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) and investigations are taking place to identify the breed and the animal’s previous owners.
The dog, which has been put down, had only been with the family for a week. The girl was rushed to hospital for treatment following the attack in St Helens at 3.50pm on Monday (March 21) but she died a short time later from her injuries.
READ MORE: Neighbours mourn beautiful little girl killed by dog in her own home
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits the ownership of certain breeds of dangerous dogs that could seriously harm or kill a human being. It establishes a criminal offence for any individual that owns such a type of dog.
Below, we look at the four banned dogs in the UK, some of the laws surrounding the animals and the exemptions.
Pit Bull Terrier
Pit Bull Terriers were banned in 1991 following a series of incidents involving this breed. There were 15 fatal attacks in England and Wales from 1981 to 1991, reports WalesOnline.
Pit Bulls were bred for fighting and had been used in blood sports such as bear and bull baiting. There were also used in dog fighting.
The Dogo Argentino is a pack-hunting dog, the American Kennel Club says. It was bred for the pursuit of big game including wild boar and puma. It “possesses the strength, intelligence and quick responsiveness of a serious athlete”.
As well as being banned in the UK, there are restrictions on ownership in other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and Norway.
Japanese Tosa have a very high pain tolerance due to their fighting origins in Asia. Tosas were often referred to as the ‘Sumo wrestler of the dog world’.
Dog-fighting rules in the last century in Japan demanded that dogs fight silently, without cowering, and the Tosa fought by these rules—relentlessly and silently, Dog Breed Info reports.
This breed was developed in Brazil as a large game hunting dog and is also know as the Brazilian Mastif. DogTime.com says: “This massive dog probably isn’t the best choice for novice pet parents or people who live in apartments, as the Fila Brasileiro needs firm, experienced training and a lot of space to run around.
“The breed is banned in several countries where these dogs are considered aggressive.”
What to do if you have a banned dog
If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it,even if:
- it is not acting dangerously
- there has not been a complaint
The police may need permission from a court to do this.
If your dog is in:
- a public place, the police do not need a warrant
- a private place, the police must get a warrant
- a private place and the police have a warrant for something else (like a drugs search), they can seize your dog
A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is (or could be) a danger to the public. Your dog will then either be:
- kept in kennels while the police (or council) apply to a court
You’re not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.
There is also an Index of Exempted Dogs (IED) which means a court can decided that a banned dog is not a danger to the public. If you have a Certificate of Exemption the dog must be neutered, microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled in public, and kept in a secure place so it cannot escape.
What are the exemptions?
If you can prove a dog’s safe and not a danger to the public, despite it being a banned breed, you may be able to keep it, reports MirrorOnline.
It may be put on the Index of Exempted Dogs and you’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption.
It lasts for the duration of the dogs life but the dog must be neutered, microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
It must also be kept in a secure place so it cannot escape and the owner must be aged over 16 and has to take out insurance against the dog injuring other people.
The owner must also show a Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within five days.
In this case, you must let the Index of Exempted Dogs know if you change your address, or if your dog dies.