Dealing with dangerous dogs

Dealing with attacks on people, dogs and other animals

If a dog attacks a person

The incident should be reported to the police. The police will also investigate the worrying of livestock and hunting with dogs.

Where the injury is caused to another dog, a pet animal or property

The position is more complicated.

We do not investigate attacks by dogs. The reasons for this are:

  • attacks by dogs on some animals are not covered by legislation.
  • attacks by dogs on other dogs are often best dealt with by taking civil action against the dog’s owner - we cannot take action on behalf of a complainant seeking civil redress.

The only piece of legislation available to deal with dogs which attack other animals is the Dogs Act 1871. The exception to this is hunting with dogs, and dogs worrying livestock. Both of these are covered by specific legislation which is enforced by the police.

It is not certain which types of animals are covered by the Dogs Act 1871. It has been established that it includes other dogs, but does not include rabbits. It is probable that other small pets are also not included. The reason for the uncertainty is that there have been inconsistencies in the rulings of courts as to what types of animals are covered by the Act.

Arun District Council does not investigate and prosecute dog attacks on dogs or other animals. You may wish to take action under the Dogs Act 1871 yourself. We have published a help sheet explaining how you can do this. However, you should be aware that the court cannot grant you compensation under this legislation.

If your dog or other pet is attacked, you may find that the best redress is to take civil action to recover damages from the owner. You may have incurred vets bills or physical damage to your property. The process is relatively simple and you do not need a solicitor. You can get the necessary forms from your local county court office. There is a fee but this can be recovered if you win your case. If you do not feel confident in taking this route, you may be able to get further advice from your nearest Citizens Advice. Do remember to keep any receipts from your vet, as the court may ask to see these.