Attacks on your dog: What to do
Another dog attacking your canine friend is possible. It could happen on the street, in the park or anywhere else where there is a chance of other dogs being around. You may not be able to foresee the attack, body language does help but sometimes this can be too subtle to predict. Of course, if there is another dog unleashed in close vicinity, it is advisable to stay calm and alert. In the unfortunate event of an attack the following steps are recommended:
- Do not try and break them up by hand as you will only get bitten. Try and distract the dogs by throwing in a small racksack or a bunch keys
- A bright flashlight can also help to create a diversion as can spraying water from a bottle
- If there is opportunity and you have time to register the attacking dog coming towards you, shout NO and take a step towards. If the situation has been restored move slowly away from the other dog. At the same time, try to keep your pet calm, any sign of aggression will provoke the other dog further.
- Once the attack has been prevented/broken up, check your dog for injury. Take pictures.
- If possible try to get a photo of the other dog and the owner.
- If there were witnesses to the incident, ask them if you can contact them later to provide a witness account and obtain contact details.
- Report the incident to the Police and the Council Dog Warden.Even if the owners apologise, pay the vet bill, seem like nice people … file a complaint. If the dog has a history of aggressiveness a decision can be made on what additional steps they may need to take. If yours is the first complaint then it’s on file should anything ever happen again.
- Get your dog to the vet – even if he doesn’t show any external signs of injury. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Be aware that some dogs may need ‘rehabilitation’ after an attack. That may be afraid of other dogs and might even show signs of fear-aggression. If you notice this happening with your dog, consult with a dog behaviorist. He or she can teach you ways to help your dog to become more comfortable around other dogs again.
The Legal Stuff
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 – Section 3 states that it is a criminal offence which can be brought against the owner of a dog (and if different the person in charge of a dog) if a dog is dangerously out of control. A dog is deemed dangerously out of control ‘on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog’.
Furthermore you can claim damages against the owner/person in charge of the attacking dog. They will be deemed liable if
- The incident was due to their negligence (i.e., they did something they should not have done or failed to do something that they should have done), or
- Their dog has behaved in a similar manner on a previous occasion and they were aware of it.
For independent specialist advice on dog law have a look at www.doglaw.co.uk and for general information on legal responsibilities relating to dogs see http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/