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Dog attacks on the increase
Over the past few years there has been a worrying increase in dog attacks on ridden horses. As it stands, the law fails to provide adequate protection for horses who fall victim to dog attacks. Unless the rider is hurt or put in fear of injury the law offers little deterrent effect.
Under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, it is a criminal offence for the owner or person in charge of a dog to allow it to be dangerously out of control in a public place. The law was recently extended to cover a dog which is allowed into a private place where it is not permitted to be if:
- it injures any person; or
- there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will do so.
This is important, as it means that if an uninvited dog attacks your horse at your yard or in its field, the law now gives protection as if it were on public land.
The sentencing guidelines have also been toughened in recent years, and now a person who is in charge of a dog that is dangerously out of control could face increased penalties of up to 5 years in prison if it injures a person and up to 14 years in prison if the victim of the attack dies. However, this only applies if a person is killed or injured or put in fear of injury. The law does not offer the same protection to horses as it does to people.
If you do find yourself or your horse the victim of an aggressive dog, where possible try to recall any distinguishing features of the dog (or owner) and report the incident to the BHS (British Horse Society) and the police, so that the situation can be monitored and hopefully prosecutions brought against careless dog owners.
Reports can be made at www.horseaccidents.org.uk where you will also find an awareness poster which riders are invited to distribute.