If you own a dangerous dog or a banned type, you need to be aware of how the law affects your pet and what you need to consider when searching for insurance.
The Dangerous Dogs Act† makes it a criminal offence for a dog to be 'dangerously out of control' in a public place, or a private place where the dog isn't entitled to be.
A dog can be deemed dangerous if there's a reasonable belief that it'll hurt someone, regardless of whether it actually does hurt them or not.
Following a number of deaths and serious injuries caused by dogs in the UK, there are proposals to introduce harsher penalties for dog owners whose pets kill or injure someone.
And owners can also face civil actions brought by anyone injured or whose property has been damaged by a dog.
It's traditionally been difficult, if not impossible, to get additional insurance cover for banned breeds, but there have been repeated rumours suggesting that certain providers are considering bringing this sort of policy to the market.
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, four 'types' of dog were banned in the UK; the Pit Bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero.
According to the government's website,† a dog's type depends on what it looks like and its characteristics rather than what its breed or name is.
It's important to keep your third party liability insurance up to date
Under the legislation, a dog warden or a police officer can take these dogs away even if they have not been aggressive and no complaint has been made against them.
It's also illegal to breed, sell, give away or abandon a dog which is one of the four types on the list.
If you have a banned dog and you have to go to court, the court might decide that your dog is not dangerous and that you can keep it.
But you'll have to meet a number of conditions, which you'll be bound to for the rest of your dog's life.
Your dog will need to be fully registered with the Index of Exempted Dogs,† meaning you'll be given an exemption certificate valid for the life of the dog.
Once issued with a certificate, you'll have to take out third party liability insurance in case the dog attacks a person or another animal.
You'll also have to get your pet microchipped and neutered and keep it on a lead and muzzled every time it's in public.
Fines were introduced for Romans whose animals caused damage or injury
You could be asked to show your certificate at any time and must produce it, either at the time or within five days.
You must also notify the Index if you move or when your dog dies.
It's important to keep your third party liability insurance up to date. The Index monitors policy renewals and will notify the police if you fail to renew.
Making owners responsible for the behaviour of their dog is far from a modern idea.