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Closed petition Require all dogs to be on a lead when on public pavements

Make it compulsory for all dogs to be leashed at all times on public pavements to protect cats. Harsh penalties should be in place for people go against this.

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If dog leashing on all public pavements was compulsory, my cat wouldn’t have lost her life to a brutal dog attack. She wasn’t even roaming the streets. She was simply sitting on my driveway as she did every single day. I believe dogs see cats as prey and we can’t rely on people to be responsible and leash their reactive dogs, a law should be in place to protect cats that are just as worthy companions as dogs to many citizens. Even if a dog isn’t reactive and has been trained well, they can have natural instincts and seeing free roaming cats could trigger that instinct.

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Government responded

This response was given on 9 April 2024

We have no plans to require all dogs to be on a lead on public pavements. It is already an offence under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act for any dog to be dangerously out of control in any place.

Read the response in full

We recognise that dog attacks can have horrific consequences, and we take this issue very seriously. There is a careful balance to be struck between protecting the wider public and their animals from dog attacks, the freedom people enjoy when walking their dogs, and the welfare of those dogs, including the freedom to exhibit normal behaviours.

The Government currently has no plans to introduce a legal requirement for all dogs to be on a lead in public. The police and local authorities already have a range of powers available to tackle dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog ownership, including dog attacks on other animals.

The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs states that it is best practice to keep dogs on leads around other animals. It is also an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to allow a dog to be on a designated road unless it is on a lead.

It is an offence under section 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to allow any dog to be dangerously out of control in any place. The law does not specifically exclude an attack by a dog on another animal from the offence of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control. Successful prosecutions have been brought for dog-on-cat attacks using section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. It will, however, be for the Crown Prosecution Service to assess, on a case-by-case basis, whether to proceed with a prosecution under the legislation.

Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 allows a complaint to be made to a Magistrates’ 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 (e.g. requiring the dog to be on a lead in public), or if necessary, that it be destroyed.

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 the police and local authorities can issue community protection notices (CPN) to address anti-social behaviour involving dogs and prevent dog control issues becoming more serious. A CPN could require the owner of a dog to stop or start doing certain things to reduce the impact of the dog’s behaviour on the community. This could include specific requirements such as wearing a lead or muzzle in public, attending dog training, or ensuring that a garden is securely enclosed so a dog cannot escape.

Under this legislation, enforcement authorities also have powers to make Public Space Protection Orders, insisting that dogs are kept on leads in certain areas.

Furthermore, all owners of banned breed types kept under exemption must adhere to strict conditions, including keeping their dogs on a lead and muzzled when in public and having third party liability insurance.

We are working in partnership with police forces and local authorities across England and Wales to ensure the full range of existing dog control powers mentioned above are effectively applied. As part of this, we have been collaborating with enforcers to deliver sessions to share best practice in preventive dog control enforcement and encourage multi-agency working to ensure dog control issues are addressed before they escalate.

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.

In response to this research, we are working with police, local authorities and animal welfare organisations to consider how the recommendations could be taken forward.

We are also considering the role of education and training (for both dogs and their owners) in reducing the risk of dog attacks, as well as considering how we can improve data collection and recording, and enforcement practices.

Conclusions from this work are expected soon. These should address all aspects of tackling irresponsible dog ownership effectively, from prevention to robust, consistent enforcement, focussing on owners as well as on their dogs.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs