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Dog Control Orders

Dog Control Orders are a means by which local councils are able to set restrictions on whether dogs are allowed into certain areas and what they can do in those areas, in an attempt to restrict antisocial behaviour by dog owners.

New rules from the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 give local Councils the ability to make orders concerning dogs. These are called dog control orders (DCOs). The authority to make such an order is in Section 55(1) of the Act, and it allows them to be made by primary or secondary authorities.

The following offences can be prescribed in a DCO:

  • Not having a dog on a lead at appropriate times
  • Not putting and keeping a lad on a dog when ordered to by authorities
  • Not clearing up the dogs faeces
  • Allowing a dog onto land where dogs are not allowed
  • Allowing more than the specified number of dogs onto land

The consequences for an offence can be up to £1,000 or a fixed penalty.

There has to be consultation for a DCO to be created and the publicising of a DCO after it has been created. This publicising must be in the form of it being published in a local newspaper, with in the invitation of replies. There must be at least twenty eight days given to receive these replies.

If the order is actually created, another notice must be published in a local newspaper to allow at least a week's notice of the DCO. If the Council has a website then it should also be published on there too. Signs in the local areas must also be placed, giving a summary of the DCO.

A DCO can only apply to land which is open to the air which the public are allowed to access. Restrictions in the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, however, do not apply to DCOs. An officer of a secondary authority can give a fixed penalty notice for breaching a DCO created by the primary authority. These offences do not apply to dogs that work or are guide dogs 'where appropriate'.

The defences to offences are:

  • acting with the land owner's permission
  • having a reasonable excuse for not complying with an order such as not knowing that your dog had defecated (not having the means to remove the faeces is not a legitimate excuse, however).

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