Dangerous Dogs Case Studies
THE MANDATORY OR DISCRETIONARY DESTRUCTION OF A DOG
Hemel Hempstead Magistrates Court
An interesting case of VICTORIA KELLEHER.v.DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS  has provided guidance as to the destruction of a dog..
In this case, before the Queen`s Bench , the dogs were subject to control orders. The dogs escaped from control and another dog was attacked, (but did not cause injury to a member of the public) and was the Appellant was charged under section 3(1) Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and had pleaded guilty. Therefore, this was a non aggravated offence. The Court ordered the destruction of the dogs.
On Appeal, it was held that the test to be applied to a non aggravated offence, being was the dog a danger to the public. If so, such destruction order was correct., as section 4A provides for the Court to make a destruction order in the event that the dog was not kept under proper control. The Court stated that the correct approach would have been an immediate destruction order if control measures and new arrangements would not have prevented the dogs being dangerous.
The Court stated at paragraph 12:
“ the test, as it seems to me, should be applied in either case , essentially relates to whether the dog is a danger to the public. If it is, whichever way round, as it were, the burden lies for showing it, then the Destruction Order is appropriate. What the Court must do in the case of a non – aggravated offence is to decide whether, on the basis that the dog is a danger, instead of making an immediate Destruction Order, to make what is described as a `contingent Destruction Order`, that is to say a Destruction Order unless the dog is kept under proper control by whatever measures are considered to be appropriate. Although there is nothing in the Act, as I understand it, and certainly no legal decision which defines the circumstances in which a Destruction Order is to be considered appropriate, nonetheless, as it seems to me, the approach that I have indicated must be the sensible one”.
The Defendant was charged in that being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control in a public place, and whilst so out of control injured a person contrary to section 3(1) and (4) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Plea entered :
Guilty Legal submissions: That the dog was not a dangerous dog, nor a specified dog under the Act, and that a dog destruction order not be considered, be it that preventative measures be implemented in situ.
£600 fine; £2,500 compensation to the victim, £620 Prosecution Costs, £15 Victim surcharge. No destruction order towards the dog, but a condition that the dog not be off a lead, must be muzzled and in control of a person over the age of 18 years when the dog is in a public place. The dog be chip/pinned and logged with the dogs name as to requirements.
Note:This offence is triable summarily only unless it is an aggravated offence in which case it is triable either way. An offence is aggravated under section 3(1) if, while the dog is out of control, it injures any person. For a summary offence, the maximum custodial sentence is one of six months or a fine not exceeding level 5 ( £5,000.00) or both. On conviction on indictment, the custodial sentence is a maximum term of 2 years and a fine or both. The sentencing Court additionally has the power to make a destruction order for the dog and disqualification orders under sections 4 and 4A.
H -v- V
St Albans Magistrates Court
The prosecution brought by Trading Standards was in relation to exporting a dog to Lithuania without being placed in quarantine, having not been vaccinated against rabies, and brought into the United Kingdom illegally, and obstructing an officer in course of their duties.
Two charges were brought, and to which the defendant stood Trial:-
- Failing to export an animal in accordance with a Notice issued under Article 13 of the Rabies (importation of dogs, cats and other mammals) Order 1974, contrary to Article 16 of the Rabies (importation of dogs, cats and other mammals) Order 1974 (as amended)
- Obstructing an officer in the course of their duties, failing to provide an officer with the information whilst they were acting in the course of their duties, contrary to Section 66(c) of the Animal Health Act (as amended)
Penman Sedgwick defending, and made submissions, resulting in Charge 2 being dropped and a Plea of guilty entered to the first charge. After considerable submissions in mitigation of the Defendant by Penman Sedgwick, the sentence of the Court was a conditional discharge for a period of 12 months, and prosecution costs of £500, with a collection order. (Prosecution costs were requested in the amount of £1,600)
Counsel for the prosecution argued the severity of the charge stating that the legislation exists to protect the animal and human population from the disease of rabies and that was the reason the dog was required to be quarantined.
This offence, due to the severity, was liable to a sentence on a summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding £5,000 (Level 5) on the standard scale or both.
Reported in the Watford Observer 12.11.10 and on internet news