Can I Take My Pit Bull to England?

If you take your pit bull pal to England, you may have a struggle to keep him.
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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.

Aiming to Protect

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.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

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 he's 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.

The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment Act) 1997

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 can't 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.

Looks Matter

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 doesn't 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.