Can I have a pitbull in the UK? Here’s the Answer

Where else are pit bulls banned around the world?

The UK isn’t the only country to ban pit bull terriers because of potential dangers.

There are also laws to limit ownership of or completely outlaw pit bull terriers in the likes of New Zealand, Belgium, France, Denmark, Poland, Finland, and Norway.

Pit bull terriers are legal in the United States. But in Canada, pit bulls are banned in many towns and cities.

Puerto Rico had a two-decade ban in place until 2018, when it was once again made legal to own, sell and import the breed.

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According to Dogs Trust, a well-established canine welfare organization in the United Kingdom, the UK media reported more dog attacks in 1990 and 1991 than in previous years. The charity states there was “no apparent rise in the number of dog bite incidents to support this trend,” however public outrage at the news reports led to The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which sought to minimize the danger to the public from potentially dangerous dogs.

Looking like a pit bull is all it takes to run afoul of The Dangerous Dogs Act. At present, there is no DNA test to confirm or deny the presence of pit bull genes in a dog. The law acknowledges that a dog need only match many of the characteristics of a pit bull terrier for him to be banned, a judgment made by a dog expert from the police. If the owner doesnt want to give up the dog, he can attempt to keep his dog, according to the DDA Amendment Act 1997. A person who is found guilty of violating the DDA is subject to fines and incarceration.

Initially, dogs on the banned list were destroyed if the owner was unable to prove his dog was not of an offending breed. The law was loosened a bit in 1997 with The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment Act) 1997, which gives the courts discretion to determine whether an offending dog must be destroyed. Currently, if the owner can prove to a police expert that the dog is not a danger to the public, he can keep his dog with conditions. Banned dogs must be neutered, microchipped, tattooed and muzzled, on a lead, when in public. At home, the dog must be kept in a secure place so he cant escape. Additionally, the owner must be over the age of 16 and have insurance for the dog. After meeting these conditions, the owner is issued a Certificate of Exemption and the dog is placed in the Index of Exempted Dogs. As well, the owner must be prepared to show his Certificate of Exemption when asked by a dog warden or police officer.

Section one of the law names four types of dogs as banned in the UK: the “type of dog known as a pit bull terrier,” the Fila Braziliero, or Brazilian mastiff, Dogo Argentino and Japanese Tosa. The second section makes it a criminal offense to allow any breed or type of dog to be a danger in a public place or a private place where the dog was prohibited. After passage of the act, it became illegal to own, breed, sell, give away or abandon a dog of any of the named types. The dog does not have to act aggressively, nor does there have to be a complaint registered for the dog to be taken into custody. If the dog is in a public place, he can be seized without a warrant, however if hes on private property, a warrant is required. Police maintain custody of the dog until the owner is able to prove the dog is not a type on the banned list.

People travel the world with their pets, and many make their moving decisions based on where their four-legged pals can join them. If you have a pit bull, you may want to reconsider moving to England; the pit bull is one of several dogs outlawed in the United Kingdom.

What if I own a banned breed in the UK?

If you own a banned dog in the UK then the police can take it off you, even if it’s well behaved. If you’re convicted of owning a banned dog or a dog of a mix of banned breeds, you can expect a fine, a six-month prison sentence, or both. If the dog has caused a nuisance or worse, the sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offence.

However, if you can provide evidence that the dog is safe, despite it being a banned breed, then you can get a certificate of exemption. This means you will be allowed to keep it, but you have to have special insurance. You must be over the age of 16, and the dog must be muzzled in public at all times.

The subjects of the Dangerous Dog Act and what makes dogs ‘dangerous’ are heavily debated. It has long been suggested that irresponsible owners are to blame for the tarnishing of some breeds, while others argue that generations of breeding for behaviours such as aggression, result in certain breeds being inherently more dangerous than others. These differences in opinion will continue to be discussed, although it seems unlikely that the current illegal dogs in the UK will be allowed to re-enter the UK anytime soon.

That’s our guide on what dogs are illegal in the UK. If you want to know more about specific dog breeds why not take a look at our article, top 10 most popular dog breeds, next.

Can you own a pitbull in the UK?

If you have a banned dog the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if it isnt acting dangerously or there hasnt been a complaint

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The topic of dangerous dogs is one which strikes fear in the hearts of many particularly after a recent spate of attacks.

Certain types have the potential to cause fatal injuries should they be untrained and left to act on what was bred into them. When the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force in 1991 four breeds were banned: Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.

Pit Bulls are the breed most commonly associated with attacks in the UK. Earlier this week a 75-year-old woman from Blackburn was left with life-changing injuries after her neighbour David Gortons dog Kia attacked her in his garden. Mr Gorton insists Kia has previously been tested and is not a Pit Bull although police later described his two dogs as Pit Bull-types.

If you have a banned dog the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if it isnt acting dangerously or there hasnt been a complaint. If your dog is in a public place the police do not need a warrant, if its in a private place the police must get a warrant and if its in a private place and the police have a warrant for something else, such as a drugs search, they can seize your dog.

A police or 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 or kept in kennels while an application is made to a court. Youre not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.

If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the Index of Exempted Dogs. This allows you to keep your pet but you must abide by several conditions including taking out insurance against your dog injuring other people, having it neutered and microchipped, keeping it on a lead and muzzle in public and keeping it in a secure place.

It is against the law to sell, abandon, give away or breed from a banned dog. Government guidance states that, whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.

If your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type. This means a dog could simply be put down should it look a certain way.

If you believe someone near you owns a banned breed you can report it to your local councils dog warden. If the council believes it could be a banned breed they can apply for a court order to seize and assess the dog.

New data has revealed an increase in children under the age of 15 having to attend hospital for dog-related injuries between April 2021 and March 2022. Up 7.5 per cent to 1,516, this is the second highest figure since records began in 2007.

In 1991, the UK government decided to ban pit bulls in response to a slew of incidents involving vicious, often unprovoked attacks, by this particular breed of dog, on humans. There were 15 fatal dog attacks in England and Wales between 1981 and 1991. Though there is no concrete scientific evidence that these dogs are more aggressive or dangerous than any other breed, they have been favoured as pets by criminals, many of whom train them as attack dogs.

Originally bred in Tosa, Shikoku, as a fighting dog the Tosa is the only breed still used in Japanese dog fighting. As well as being banned in the UK the breed is banned in Australia, Denmark, Israel and Turkey among others.

The Dogo Argentino is a large, white, muscular breed of dog that was developed in Argentina primarily for the purpose of big-game hunting, including wild boar. The breeder, Antonio Nores Martínez, also wanted a dog that would exhibit steadfast bravery and willingly protect its human companion.

The Fila Brasileiro, or Brazilian Mastiff, is a large working breed of dog developed in Brazil. It is known for its superb tracking ability, aggressiveness and an unforgiving, impetuous temperament. Rather than attacking its prey, the Fila traps it and waits for the hunter to arrive.