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PUBLISHER: Alibi an imprint of Veritas Chambers
Dogs of Law analyses the major criminal legislation that affects dogs and our legal duty in caring for them. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 [DDA] is of concern to many people who own ‘prohibited’ dogs as well as members of the public, often children, who are attacked by them. The recent amendment by the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 [ABCPA] is the most important legislation that relates to and reflects the attempt to control dangerous dogs. The ABCPA introduces the ‘householder defence’ against trespassers, protection for assistance dogs and increased sentences for offenders.
This book covers in clear and comprehensive terms the duty owed by owners to control their dogs and the concurrent responsibility of owners to other people. Dogs of Law is a detailed analysis of the role and status of dangerous dogs in public and private places. So it examines in-depth the vital legal aspects that will affect most owners and most victims and all dogs.
The practical approach adopted throughout aids an understanding of the DDA as well as being an advantage for the reader. For this book is intended to be used by lawyers and discerning laymen. While it will provide guidance to practitioners, it is a reference source for people who have an interest in animal law. That includes organisations that exist to promote animal welfare and animal rights and those seeking to help animals as it provides a guide for veterinary surgeons, care workers and lay people who run sanctuaries.
Dogs of Law analyses all of the current authorities relating to the DDA and the ABCPA. There is an examination of the Sentencing Council Guideline and the sentences imposed by the various criminal courts. In conclusion it analyses the present position of dogs as well as their future rights in relation to us. There is a unique discussion on reform and the need for an Animals’ Ombudswoman.
Noël Sweeney is a practising barrister who specialises in criminal law and human rights and animal law. He has lectured widely on those subjects and written on all aspects of animal welfare and animal rights. He is a member of the Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare and the Animal Welfare Science Ethics and Law Veterinary Association.
The British Police and Services Canine Association
“An excellent book, and a vital reference for anyone who owns a dog, or works with dogs professionally.”
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Review from Lorna Stevenson B.Vet.Med MRCVS
” Noel Sweeney :“It is our duty to defend the defenceless and protect the vulnerable by providing a legal voice for those hamstrung by the lack of a human tongue” What then for our canine companions when their lives & liberties can only be defended in Court by Experts but the Legal Aid budget has been drastically cut?
Noel’s writing is instantly accessible and inclusive of all, not just lawyers, vets or academics but all who work with and have an interest in animal welfare. In this book he puts the Dangerous Dogs Act itself on trial concluding that it and its many amendments (including the ABCPA in 2014) are not fit for purpose and never have been.
In refreshingly unstuffy prose he covers all aspects of the current legal position relating to dogs through examination of each law and gives examples of cases in a way that is clear, informative & engaging.
His solution is compelling: repeal and replace the DDA with an Act which incorporates the advances in animal welfare knowledge, and the ethics of animal rights; and reintroduce Dog Licences. Noel outlines how this new Act should be drafted and makes a strong case for an Animal’s Ombudswoman to independently promote their legal interests. Noel highlights the link between animal abuse and violence to women & children and argues that there should be an Animal Abuses’ Register akin to the Sec Offenders’ Register such that all interested parties could know who is on the Register to help them to protect vulnerable animals, human & non-human.
“The bark of the Dogs’ Ombudswoman would be the silent victim’s voice” Until then let Noel and all the other Animal Advocates be heard. ”
Lorna Stevenson B.Vet.Med MRCVS
Review from Lisa Tenzin-Dolma
The complexities of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ((DDA) and the amendments by the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (ABCPA) in 2014 can be a minefield for dog owners and for professionals who work with dogs. In “Dogs of Law” Noël Sweeney explains each section of these Acts in plain terms, illustrated by case stories, so that anyone can understand and ensure that they remain on the right side of the law.
As he points out in this comprehensive, well-written book, the DDA was completed and rushed through the House of Commons in a single day, in a knee-jerk reaction to a spate of dog attacks. Widespread criticism of the Act is justified, as many harmless dogs deemed to be “of type” have been seized and killed because of this. Further amendments to the Act have attempted to reduce public fears over aggressive dogs and to hold owners responsible, and from March 2015 the Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes allows the police the discretion to grant “bail” to a seized dog. The introduction of harsher sentences for offences involving dogs aims to keep the focus on owner responsibility, and Sweeney points out how dog owners can use their understanding of the law to protect themselves and their dogs.
Alongside giving clear, concise insight into the dog law, Sweeney points out areas of concern in the current DDA, such as the methods used to determine whether a dog is “of type”, and he reminds us that there is currently no legal requirement for veterinarians to report cases of suspected animal abuse to the authorities. As he points out in page 351 and 352, “Rights apply to all within the species homo sapiens. That is our defined limit. No other species can climb the ladder of law. We have chosen to deny rights to animals based on a conspiracy: our self-ordained superiority means that they have no claim to human justice.”
Although this excellent book was written primarily for professionals, Sweeney’s style of writing makes it just as accessible to dog owners, and is vital reading for everyone who has dogs in their care in any capacity.
Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, principal of the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour, founder of the Dog Welfare Alliance, and co-author (with Theo Stewart) of the slideshow “Beware of the Dog-Law”.
Review from K./ Wray
My own experience of dogs is fairly limited. As a child, I was brought up in a household of four children with parents who had no inclination or time to spare for a family pet. As a result I had no opportunity in life to form a relationship with a dog until much later in life when my Partner and I inherited a Westie who was fairly elderly. He was such a delight that I loved him dearly and was very sad when he became ill and died at the end of a happy life.
My only interest in dogs therefore is as a recent owner, albeit not for too long and as a grandmother of two infant girls who both love to touch and stroke any dog they come across.
This book is wonderfully presented and gives a novice who knows nothing of the law the opportunity to check areas which might be of interest to me.
I was impressed with the logical and helpful way that the book is assembled and can only agree with the author’s final conclusions as to the treatment of dogs in our Society.
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