Closed petition Create new requirements for dogs held under dangerous dogs legislation

We want new legal requirements in relation to dogs that are being held under dangerous dogs law. Authorities should immediately notify owners if their dog is unwell, needs a vet, is dying or died. And no dog's body to be cremated or frozen without an owner’s consent, so they can seek a post mortem.

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Currently there is no guidance from Government or specific legal requirements for owners to be informed when a dog - that is being held under dangerous dogs legislation - is sick, needs vet treatment or died. Owners can also struggle to get copies of vet and kennel records.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 5 September 2023

We currently have no plans to introduce new legal requirements in relation to seized dogs. All kennels that operate as a commercial business must be licensed and meet set health and welfare standards.

In accordance with Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all police forces have a duty to ensure the welfare of animals under their control, including the welfare of seized dogs. When a dog is seized, under Section 3 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 a police force becomes temporarily responsible for the dog and any decision-making relating to its health and welfare whilst the police force remains responsible for the dog.

Individual police forces have their own policies in relation to the management of seized dogs, including scenarios where it is best practice to notify owners about the health and/or welfare status of their dog eg. if a dog becomes seriously unwell or where euthanasia is being considered/ was required on welfare grounds. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary for the police force to authorise freezing or cremating the body of a dog soon after euthanasia for biosecurity reasons eg. if the owner cannot be contacted within a reasonable time frame.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council dangerous dogs working group encourages all forces to keep their policies for the management of seized dogs up to date and to reflect best practice.

All kennels that operate as a commercial business must be licensed under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (“the 2018 Regulations”). Licensees must meet and maintain strict minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences.

There is also an interim exemption scheme allowing suspected prohibited dogs to remain with their owners in advance of a court hearing if the police determine that the dog is not likely to pose a threat to public safety in the meantime. The Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015 sets out that the relevant Chief Officer of Police must satisfied about the dog’s temperament, and suitability of its owner, for it to be placed on the interim exemption scheme. As part of this, the relevant Chief Officer of Police must also be satisfied that a seized suspected prohibited dog has been neutered, microchipped and has a third-party liability policy in place before it can be released back to the owner whilst the Court case is waiting to be heard.

Defra officials are working with the police to assess current take up of the scheme and explore any barriers that may act as a deterrent to take up.

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs