Here is what happens if you own an illegal dog in the UK

DOGS are a man’s best friend.

Sunday, 12th June 2022, 5:48 pm

But despite that, there are a few breeds which you are currently not allowed to own in the UK.

If you are thinking of getting yourself a pooch, then make sure you are not buying one that could get you in trouble.

Here’s what you need to know:

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Pitbull terrier are banned in the UK. Picture: RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images

Which dog breeds are banned in the UK?

The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 bans the owning, breeding or selling of a number of type of dogs.

It was introduced following a number of attacks in 1991.

The following four breeds were banned:

- Pit Bull Terrier

- Japanese Tosa

- Dogo Argentino

- Fila Brasileiro

Pit Bull Terrier and Japanese Tosa breeds are explicitly mentioned in the act, while the Secretary of State added the latter two in 1991.

Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.

If your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type.

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Is it just illegal to own a banned dog?

It’s also against the law to:

- sell a banned dog

- abandon a banned dog

- give away a banned dog

- breed from a banned dog

What happens 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.

However 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:

- released

- 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.

Is there any circumstance where you can keep a banned dog?

If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the IED and let you keep it.

You’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption. This is valid for the life of the dog.

Your dog must be:

- neutered

- microchipped

- kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public

- kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

As the owner, you must:

- take out insurance against your dog injuring other people

- be aged over 16

- show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days

- let the IED know if you change address, or your dog dies