Dogs bred for fighting that are banned in Northern Ireland
Any dog can be a danger to the public, but certain types of dogs are banned in the Northern Ireland.
There are four types of dogs that are banned in Northern Ireland, the:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Braziliero
It is an offence to breed, sell, offer for sale or make a gift of a dog of a banned type. If you are found guilty of any of these offences you face a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of £5,000.
A dog identified as a banned dog type by a dog warden will be presumed to be so, unless the owner can prove otherwise in court.
In most cases, a court will order a dog seized as a banned dog type to be put down, even where the council decides not to prosecute the owner.
An owner of a seized Pit Bull must inform the court that he/she intends to bring forward evidence that the dog is not a banned dog type not later than 14 days before the hearing is due to take place.
Once seized, your dog will be kept in kennels pending a court hearing - this could be for several weeks or months.
Judging whether your dog is a banned type
A council dog warden, or an expert used by the council, will make an assessment of the physical characteristics of your dog. They will judge the type of dog you have and whether it appears to be a banned type. Following the assessment, your dog will either:
- be released if it is not believed to be a banned type; or
- be kept in kennels while the council applies to a court for a destruction order.
You can give up ownership of your dog but you cannot be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without you even going to court.
Banned dogs which do not pose a danger to the public
If the court is persuaded that even if the dog is a banned type, it would not be a danger to the public if it was kept under certain strict conditions the court may make a ‘contingent destruction order’ that exempts the dog from the ban for so long as the exemption conditions are met.
The exemption conditions are:
- that the dog is neutered;
- that the dog is kept leashed and muzzled when in a public place;
- that when not in a public place, that the dog is in sufficiently secure conditions;
- that the dog is made available to council dog wardens for inspection;
- that the council is notified of any change of address of the dog, or of the death or export of the dog
- that a third party insurance policy is taken out in respect of the dog.
In these circumstances you have two months to demonstrate that the exemption conditions have been met, at which point a licence for that dog can be applied for and issued by the council.
A breach of the exemption conditions is likely to lead to the destruction of the dog concerned.
Where a dog has been exempted from the ban on certain dog types, it is still an offence to breed from that dog, advertise it for sale or exchange, or transfer its ownership without informing the council.
The role of the PSNI
The PSNI may assist council officers where there is a risk to public safety.