Closed petition Make it a legal duty to report when a dog attacks or kills a cat

If you are the owner of a dog that attacks a cat, or you witness a cat being attacked and killed by a dog, then you should have a legal duty to report it. More than likely it is someones pet.

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My 1 year old cat went outside like she did every day. The same afternoon she was found dead not far from my home, next to a primary school and cricket club on a public path. I was tracked down through a Facebook group where a kind citizen posted that they had found a deceased cat, trying to track their owner, and luckily I got her back. Where she was found there would have been people walking past, and no one did anything to report it or alert anyone. She was wearing a collar so was obviously someones pet - mine. Vet confirmed she suffered a large amount of trauma to her body and confirmed she had been attacked by a dog.

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Government responded

This response was given on 22 June 2022

We recognise how painful it is to lose a pet and not know what happened. We will continue to work with local authorities to develop best practice to help reunite dead pets with their owners.

Read the response in full

Although there are some limited exceptions, in general there is no legal obligation for a person who has potentially committed a crime to report it, or for a person having witnessed a crime to do so. This is to protect an individual from potentially incriminating themselves, which is a right protected within the British legal system.

There are, however, measures to tackle dangerous behaviour of dogs. It is an offence under section 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control. The law does not exclude an attack by a dog on another animal from the offence of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control. Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 also allows a complaint to be made to a magistrate’s court where a dog is “dangerous and not kept under proper control”. The court may make any Order it considers appropriate, to require the owner to keep the dog under proper control, or if necessary, that it be destroyed. In addition, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 also includes community protection notices to enable the police and local authorities to tackle irresponsible dog ownership. Local authorities also have powers to make public space protection orders under the 2014 Act, excluding dogs from certain areas or insisting they are kept on leads.

In December 2021, Defra published research in collaboration with Middlesex University investigating measures to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible dog ownership across all breeds of dog. The report provides the basis for the consideration of reform in this area and the Government is already working with the police, local authorities, and animal welfare stakeholders to consider the recommendations further.

Whilst there is no legal duty to report a dead cat, most local authorities have ways for people to report the location of a dead animal and have procedures in place to then try to reunite pets with their owners. We are aware that procedures differ between regions and that is why we have already committed to working with local authorities to develop and promote best practice in this area. We will continue to work with local authorities to develop best practice guidelines to help reunite dead pets with their owners.

We consider that having such good practice guidelines, in addition to the dog control measures outlined above, are sufficient to address this issue without the need for a new legal duty.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs