The Law

The following relates to the legal position in England & Wales only and is intended to be a summary.  It is not a substitute for bespoke legal advice if you have a specific legal query and no two cases are exactly the same.  You must not rely on it as constituting legal advice in and of itself.

The purpose of wearing the yellow ribbons described on this website is to indicate to other people that for whatever reason their dogs are deemed to need more space and privacy than other dogs.

Simply by putting a yellow ribbon on a dog is not an admission that the dog is dangerous. It is a matter of choice for the individual owner. The decision to wear such a distinguishing item on the dog is becoming a widespread and increasingly common way of indicating that while the dog is not dangerous, nonetheless for whatever reason it needs more space and privacy than another dog even of the same breed may require. However, if there should be an incident, the owner may well be asked the reason for the yellow ribbon ie whilst it is not an admission of dangerousness it could still give rise to questions being put as to the reason(s) why a yellow ribbon is being worn.

Dog owners can continue making people aware that their individual dog may perhaps need more space and privacy than other dogs as a result of any given trait inherent in the dog without the risk that their action would automatically be interpreted as meaning their dog is dangerous.

Dangerous dog laws

Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 requires that dogs be kept under proper control. If there is a failure to do so, AND the dog is regarded as dangerous, proceedings can be issued against the dog’s owner (as opposed to the person in charge of the dog at the time). The civil standard of proof applies. These proceedings are rare nowadays but could be started by a member of the public, the Police or a Local Authority saying that the dog is dangerous and not under proper control.  If the case is proven, an order may be made directing that the dog be kept under proper control or destroyed.  If the dog has behaved dangerously on one occasion only then this is unlikely to be sufficient to prove that the dog has a dangerous disposition unless the incident was exceptional. 

Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 imposes strict liability on an owner (and if different the person for the time being in charge of the dog) whereby a criminal offence is committed if any dog (ie of any breed or type) is ‘dangerously out of control’. This requires the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog made a person reasonably fear injury to themselves, another person or to an assistance dog.  There has to be something that the Defendant did, or failed to do (more than minimal) which led to the incident.  If convicted, in addition to punishment for the offender, in a case where the dog has actually injured, there will be a presumption that the dog shall be destroyed unless it can be proven that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety,

Compensation claims

We live in an increasingly litigious society and civil damages claims are often brought by Claimants on a ‘no win no fee basis’.  The heads of claim would include if a dog injures a person, harms an animal or causes damage to property and the grounds would be under the Animals Act 1971 and/or the tort of negligence.

Under Section 2 of the Animals Act 1971 a keeper of a dog will probably be regarded as strictly liable for damage caused by a dog if:

  • The damage is of a kind which was likely to be severe
  • The likelihood of the damage was due to characteristics of the dog not normally found in dogs (or not normally found except in particular times or circumstances), and
  • These characteristics were known to the keeper

 As to negligence this would arise if: 

  • the Claimant was owed a duty of care
  • The dog’s keeper did something they shouldn’t have done (or failed to have done something they should have done), and
  • Damage resulted

All dog owners are strongly encouraged to obtain an appropriate insurance policy which covers third party claims. Such policies are widely advertised and can be obtained at fairly modest prices.

© Yellow Dog UK 2015 All Rights Reserved.

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Yellow Dog UK is a Registered Charity raising awareness that some dogs and their owners need space.  We pledge to supply free yellow ribbons to owners whose dogs needs space and that all donations will be used to promote and raise awareness of the campaign. View our charity registration certificate HERE

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