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Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern-Ireland) 2011 Becomes Law

Writing to all supporters of the CWU Bite Back campaign on Dangerous Dogs legislation, Dave Joyce, CWU’s CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer said:

Dave Joyce“I am extremely pleased to report that the new Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern-Ireland) 2011 has come into operation.

This Act passed its final stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly on the 8th February and received Royal Assent on March 8th 2011.

The Northern Ireland Assembly have decided that different sections of the new Act will commence at different dates as determined by NI Government.”

Dave then listed some of the main elements of the new legislation: 

·         The main provisions to deal with dangerous dogs in the new Dogs (Amendment) Act 2011 are now operational.

·         The remaining provisions of the Act which deal with Dog Control Notices/Control Conditions for problem dogs, enhanced powers for dog wardens, fixed penalty Notices and new increased dog licence fees and fixed penalty notices will come into operation on 3 October 2011.

·         The final provision of the Compulsory microchipping of dogs will come into force in April 2012.

·         The Act is fully enacted by April 2012.

Dave then explains the workings of the new law:

“The new Northern Ireland legislation, (as with the new Scottish Dangerous Dogs legislation), will apply everywhere, including private property and will give Police, Councils and Courts greater powers to impose penalties on the owners of dangerous dogs. The legislation modernises the existing "piecemeal" ineffective legislation in Northern Ireland (The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983, The Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991, The Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2001) on dogs.

The Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, places a sharper focus on responsible dog ownership and the control of dangerous or out of control dogs with more legal responsibility placed on the owners of badly behaved dogs. The owners of dogs who attack people, livestock and other people’s pets, face new substantial penalties.

It enables local authorities to impose measures on the dog owner, or the person in charge of a dog where that person has failed to keep the dog under control. The liability of an irresponsible, careless owner who's dog is dangerously out of control will apply in 'all places', private as well as public places. For example if a dog attacks and injures a Postal Worker or BT Engineer in future on private premises or in a public place, the owner faces up to a two years prison sentence and an unlimited fine.

Compulsory Dog Licenses with Compulsory Microchipping are introduced. The Act introduces a new regime of dog control notices which can be issued by local authorities dog wardens without the needs for application to the courts and the conditions will be attached to a dog owners license. Council Dog Wardens can impose controls on dogs where there has been a breach of dog control laws through the use of the new Dog Control Notice conditions.

This will mean that a problem dog can only be kept under certain conditions - for instance, always leashed or muzzled when in public, or kept away from specified places. Dog Wardens can also require that a dog or its owner undergo training, or even, in extreme cases, that an aggressive dog be neutered. A breach of a control condition will be an offence punishable by a maximum fine of £2,500. The power of seizure of dogs which are dangerously out of control applies to all places. The Act additionally, amends the law in relation to new offences of injuring other dogs, pets and livestock (cattle, poultry, sheep etc) by dogs which is now covered by the new Act.”

Dave has also written to the Government's Lord Henley Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defra and other Ministers including the PM and DPM.

You can download his letter here

Source: Dave Joyce / CWU 

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