Safe

Dangerous dogs

Are you worried a member of your family has a dangerous dog?

Any dog can potentially be dangerous, but certain types of particularly aggressive dogs are banned in the UK under section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This means it's illegal to own, breed, sell or give one away. So if your friend owns one, they might be breaking the law without even knowing it.

The four types of banned dogs are:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

Is the owner responsible?

Yes. Every dog owner, by law, must look after their dog properly, and that includes controlling it in public. No matter how large or small the dog, it can still hurt people.

Is it a ‘status dog’?

You might have heard this term in the newspapers or on TV. What it means is anyone who uses a dog to threaten or deliberately injure someone. It could lead to a penalty of up to five years in prison so it's really important that whoever in your family who owns the dog knows this otherwise they might get themselves into a lot of trouble.

Do they have a dog but are not taking care of it?

All dog owners have a responsibility to look after their dog and treat it with care and respect. And that includes your brother, sister or other family member. If you think a dog is being treated cruelly, you can do something about it by contacting the RSPCA. Visit the RSPCA site here.

If you are worried about trying to sort out the problem yourself, you should get someone responsible involved such as another family member, a teacher or another trusted adult.

If you're really worried about the dog and you don't think there is anyone you can talk to get in touch with us:

  • Contact your local police station or Safer Neighbourhoods Team - if it's an emergency and someone is in immediate danger call 999.
  • If you feel unable to talk to the police, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (they won't ask your name and will not trace your call)
  • Or for more information visit the ‘Reporting crime’ section on the Metropolitan Police website or the ‘How to contact us’ page on this site.

And remember - it's far better that your family member gets into a bit of trouble now than things get out of hand and someone gets seriously injured - them included.

If it's reported will the dog be put down?

Not necessarily. The first thing that might happen is that the dog will be taken away by the police and held. It may then take careful research by experts to check if it's one of the four banned breeds. A decision will be made by the courts about each case. If the courts find that the dog isn't a banned breed or dangerously out of control, whoever it is who owns the dog may well get extra help to take care of it.

Getting more help

For more information about dangerous and illegal dogs visit our 'Get the facts' or 'More help and advice' pages.