Dogs that attack people, livestock or assistance dogs must be reported to the Police by dialling 101. They are the investigating body for these incidents.

A dog on dog attack will be dealt with by the Dog Warden Service who will mediate between parties. Most minor cases are dealt with by means of an advice letter to the offending party, however, there are various legislative options available to us.

Where a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place, we may be able to take action to deal with the incident to prevent it happening again. This is not possible where the name and address of the dog owners involved are not supplied.

In moderate and persistent cases legislation allows the Dog Warden Service to place reasonable restrictions on aggressive dogs. These restrictions may stipulate certain conditions with regard to handling and containing the dog. If these are not complied with and attacks continue there is a possibility for the dog to be considered dangerously out of control and as such may lead to a hearing in a Magistrates Court. The Court may decide to formalise any restrictions, or may even consider the destruction of the dog as a last resort.

Banned dogs

In the UK, it’s against the law to own certain types of dog.

These are the:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • XL Bully dogs are banned in both England and Wales

It’s against the law to:

  • sell a banned dog
  • abandon a banned dog
  • give away a banned dog
  • breed from a banned dog

Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.

For example, if your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type.

If you have a banned dog

If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if:

  • it is not acting dangerously
  • there has not been a complaint

The police may need permission from a court to do this.

If your dog is in:

  • a public place, the police do not need a warrant
  • a private place, the police must get a warrant
  • a private place and the police have a warrant for something else (like a drugs search), they can seize your dog

The police or a council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is (or could be) a danger to the public. Your dog will then either be:

  • released
  • kept in kennels while the police (or council) apply to a court

You’re not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.

You can give up ownership of your dog but you cannot be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without you even going to court.

If you have a valid Certificate of Exemption for your dog and it’s not been acting dangerously, you may be able to keep it.

You cannot apply for a Certificate of Exemption. You’ll only have one if a court gave you one or you applied for one in the past.

XL Bully dogs in England and Wales

You cannot own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a valid Certificate of Exemption.

Check what to do if you own an XL Bully dog.

Going to court

It’s your responsibility to prove your dog is not a banned type.

If you prove this, the court will order the dog to be returned to you. If you cannot prove it (or you plead guilty), you’ll be convicted of a crime.

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) for having a banned dog against the law. Your dog will also be destroyed.

If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, the court may put your dog on the Index of Exempt dogs and let you keep it.

You’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption. 

If you have a Certificate of Exemption for your banned dog

A Certificate of Exemption lets you keep a banned dog as long as it does not behave dangerously, and you follow certain rules. It is valid for the life of the dog.

Your dogs must be:

  • neutered
  • fitted with a microchip
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

As the owner, you must:

  • take out insurance against your dog injuring other people
  • be aged over 16
  • show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days
  • let the Index of Exempt Dogs know if you change address, or your dog dies

Reporting a dangerous dog

You can report a dog that’s out of control.

Index of Exempted Dogs
Telephone: 020 8026 4296