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Dangerous Dogs Amendment Act 1997 Overview


The dangerous dogs act amendment act 1997 basically amended the original 1991 dangerous dogs act. This amendment came about after more than about 5 years of campaigning by action groups putting pressure on the government highlighting the injustices of the original 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. One of these action groups, the Dangerous Dogs Act Reform Group was initiated by the Lord Houghton, who has sadly now passed away. He was a fierce opponent of the original 1991 act and he received support from all the main canine welfare organisations, including the endangered dog’s defence and rescue group.


The main problem with the original act before the 1997 amendment was that any dog that was found to be a pit bull terrier type or any of the other banned dog types, had to be destroyed, there was no leeway. It was just the same for any dog found guilty of causing injury to a person. Destruction of the dog was the only ruling. The person behind the reworking of the Dangerous Dogs Act for the Amendment was Trevor Cooper, who had a lot of experience with Dangerous Dogs Act court cases.


This was a problem for many people as it didn't take into consideration the dog as an individual as much as it should. The 1997 amendment act changed this and gave discretionary powers to courts. This did away with destruction of a convicted animal being mandatory. If a dog is found guilty of being a banned type, the court can order that the dog be registered onto the IED (Index of Exempted Dogs) as long as the court feels the dog is safe to be released back to its owner.


Also if a dog is found guilty of causing injury to a person then under section 3 of the act (regardless of whether it's a banned type or not) the court can decide when issuing a sentence whether it will be destroyed or given a control order.


While there has been a noted change in the number of dogs being seized by the police(under section one of illegal types like Pit bulls etc) and court sentencing’s since the Amendment came into place, but they have increased terribly in certain areas such as Liverpool, Merseyside and London areas. These increases in seizures in the mentioned areas are thought to be due to a new trend called “Status Dogs”, whereby young men use aggressive dogs such as Rottweiler’s and Staffordshire Bull Terriers as status symbols.