The law if a dog attacks your dog in the park

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It’s every dog owner’s worst fear – their dog being attacked by another dog whilst out walking. It can happen at any time so it is worth being clear about the law in advance so you’re prepared and know what to do.

There have been more than 5,500 dog attacks resulting in injury across the West Midlands since 2014. According to West Midlands Police, the number of offences of ‘being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control and causing injury’ have almost tripled in seven years.

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal for a dog to be ‘out of control’ or to bite or attack someone. A dog is considered ‘dangerously out of control’ if it Injures someone or makes someone worried that it might injure them.

Read more: Dog attack surge across West Midlands as people killed and seriously injured by out-of-control pets

This law came into force in 1991, making it illegal for dogs to be ‘out of control in a public place’. And the law was extended in 2014 to include incidents on private property, which would include your home and others’ homes, including front and back gardens.

However, when it comes to attacking other animals, it is only an offence if a dog attacks an assistance dog. Attacks on other animals, including pet dogs, are not classed as offences under the Act, according to the RSPCA. There is, however, a loophole.

The RSPCA says that a court could prosecute if a person believes they would have been injured if they tried to stop a dog attacking their animal. The animal charity recommends that you should report the incident to the police immediately If your dog is attacked by another dog.

A spokesman on the RSPCA website said: “It is an offence if your dog attacks an assistance dog but attacks on other animals including pet dogs are not. However, a court could prosecute if a person believes they would have been injured if they tried to stop a dog attacking their animal.

“If your dog is attacked by another dog, the incident should still be reported to the police immediately.”

Find out more on the RSPCA website here

What to do if your dog is attacked by another dog

The PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) charity charity has tips for dog owners whose pet is attacked by another animal:

1. Try not to panic as this is likely to make both dogs worse

2. Try to distract the attacking dog but do it from a distance with a loud noise like a clap

3. Avoid making eye contact or shouting at the other dog as it may make it feel more threatened and more likely to lash out

4. Don’t attempt to separate the dogs. As horrible as this is, you could risk being injured yourself or making your dog’s injuries worse if you wade in between the dogs

5. Try to call your dog away – and hope the other owner is doing the same thing

Find out more on the PDSA website here

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What to do after your dog has been attacked by another dog

The PDSA recommends dog owners report the incident to the police by calling 101. You can also report it to your local council’s dog warden.

It is advisable to collect the owner’s details and try to get a photo of the other dog if you can. Take a picture of any injuries your dog has. If there are any witnesses, try to get their details too. Ask the other owner if they have pet insurance as this may cover any vet’s bills your dog incurs.

Then, take your pet to the vet, even if the injuries don’t look serious. It’s best to get your dog checked over straight away to make sure there’s nothing going on that you can’t see.

What to do if your dog attacks another dog

The PDSA suggests you try to stay calm and distract your dog from a distance by calling him or her away or using a toy or stick to attract their attention.

Try throwing a large coat over your dog to help distract them for long enough for the other dog to get away and then get them under control.

Be careful when putting a lead back onto your dog as you may get bitten yourself. Try making your lead into a slip lead by putting the end of the lead though the handle to make a loop. Take them away so they can no longer see the other dog. Offer your contact details to the other pet owner once your dog is safely secured in the car, if possible.

Talk to your vet to make sure there’s no medical reason for your dog’s sudden aggressive outburst. Then consider taking your pet to see a behaviourist who can advise on some training exercises to try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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