Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal to own certain types of dog. These are - a pit bull terrier type, a Japanese Tosa type, Dogo Argentino type and a Fila Braziliero type. Whether a dog is banned depends on its appearance rather than its breed or name.
For example, if you owned a dog that had many characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type. It is also against the law to sell, abandon, give away or breed from a banned dog.
The police, with the permission of a court, may seize a banned dog even if a complaint hasn't been made and the dog isn't acting dangerously. If a banned type of dog is in:
• a public place the police don't need a warrant to seize it
• a private place, the police must get a warrant to seize it
• a private place and the police have a warrant for something else (like a drugs search), they can seize it
When a banned dog is seized, a police dog expert will then judge what type of dog you have and whether it is, or could be, a danger to the public. Depending on their decision your dog will either be released or kept in kennels before the case goes to court. If it goes to court, you cannot visit your dog until a decision has been made.
If it does go to court, it will be your responsibility to prove your dog is not a banned type. If you are successful, your dog will be released to you. If you are not, you will be found guilty of owning a banned type of dog. You can choose to give up ownership of your dog but you can’t be forced. Should you choose to give up ownership of your dog, the would mean it could be destroyed before even going to court.
If the courts do not consider a banned type to be a danger to the public, you may be allowed to keep it. You will be given a Certificate of Exemption and your dog must be:
• kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
• kept in a secure place so it can't escape
As an owner of a banned type of dog with a Certificate of Exemption, 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 Exempted Dogs know if you change your address, or your dog dies.