Control of Guard Dogs

Orders of the Day — GUARD DOGS BILL (changed from Dogs Bill) – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th May 1975.

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Photo of Mr Peter Doig Mr Peter Doig , Dundee West 12:00 am, 16th May 1975

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 17, at end insert— '() A person shall not use or permit the use of a guard dog at any premises unless a notice containing a warning that a guard dog is present is clearly exhibited at each entrance to the premises.'. In the Bill as originally introduced Clause 1 was concerned with all dogs, and it would have been an offence for any dog owner not to display a warning notice outside the premises where he resided and where the dog was kept. Objections were voiced against that provision by hon. Members on both sides of the House on Second Reading. The clause was so widely drawn as to apply to every dog. As it would have been unlikely to be acceptable to the public generally or to dog owners particularly, the original clause was deleted in Committee and the present clause substituted. The Bill then became concerned only with guard dogs and its title was accordingly changed in Committee.

The purpose of the amendment is to add a new subsection to reintroduce the requirement to display warning notices, but in relation only to guard dogs. The amendment provides that warning notices should be displayed where dogs are being used for the purposes of guarding premises. That is one of the items included in the voluntary code of practice on the use of guard dogs announced by the Government earlier this year.

The amendment requires a warning notice to be displayed whether a guard dog is owned by the owner of the premises or is hired by him. The offence is to use or permit the use of a guard dog when the warning notice is not displayed. If, therefore, an owner of premises hires a guard dog and no warning notice is exhibited on the premises where the dog is being used, both the owner of the premises and the person from whom he hires the dog could be prosecuted under the amendment. That means that a notice must be exhibited at each entrance to the premises to ensure that anyone approaching the premises at any entrance is properly warned that a guard dog is present. The penalty for an offence in this category is the same as for other offences under the Bill—namely, a maximum fine of £400 on summary conviction as provided in Clause 3.

The scope of the requirement to display a warning notice is determined by the definition in Clause 5. In the Bill as it stands the definition includes a dog that is protecting a person or any premises. When a dog handler takes a dog with him when he goes with a team of men employed by a security company to collect or deliver money from shops and banks the dog is protecting those persons on each of the premises they visit. The amendment would require a notice warning of the presence of the dog to be displayed at the entrance to each shop or bank even though the dog was there for only a few minutes.

That is not the sort of case for which the warning notice requirement is designed. Accordingly Amendment No. 13 limits the definition of "guard dog" to dogs protecting premises, property that is kept on the premises or persons guarding the premises. I hope that this makes it clear that the requirement will apply only to dogs which are kept on the premises and which are guarding the premises.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Mather Lieut-Colonel David Mather , Esher

I think that the hon. Gentleman was very wise to withdraw the original Clause 1 as it stood when we debated it on Second Reading. I am sure that as a result he has a more satisfactory Bill. I suggested to him on Second Reading that he should make this alteration, and as a result I believe that the Bill is far more acceptable. With the reservations that I made at an earlier stage regarding the new complications that have been added, I have no objection to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.