Where to find free & low-cost legal help for pets can be difficult, and it does not help that the Dangerous Dogs Act is one of the most silly pieces of legislation ever, ask any vet or animal welfare expert. But if you need some legal help, here are some good resources. Also see where to find free & low-cost legal help for humans.
- Blue Cross lists all the dog laws you should know (barking, keeping dogs safe near livestock, biting etc). Read this book to keep your safe and how to train your dog with kindness (this and not keeping dogs bored and locked up helps to stop barking, one of the most common legal issues.
- Most issues concern the Dangerous Dogs Act, dogs biting people (like postmen) and barking. Barking dogs often are due to bored dogs, so keep dogs well-exercised. If your dog does not like the postman, use a letterbox guard and keep dogs in a closed room, when the postman visits, and don’t leave gates open.
- For other issues (like breed legislation), contact Dog Law (run by the ‘St Francis of Assisi’ of dog lawyers). He also runs Dog SOS, a membership site where you can get free advice and discounts on services, if needed. DDA Watch is a free confidential helpline.
- Advocates for Animals is a new organisation run by lawyers, specialising in animal welfare. It’s been set up by two solicitors with vast combined experience in animal protection law, (all lawyers and students can find helpful information at A-law).
- Animals & Society Institute runs AniCare, which trains probation officers to stop animal abuse. It has manuals for both adults and children (include those who have witnessed animal abuse). Studies show that nearly all serial killers have a history of animal abuse
Legal Help (pets & Domestic Abuse)
See the post on how to help stop domestic abuse for more info and help. Many pets also suffer and some victims don’t leave, as they can’t take their pets. If you can, get your paperwork in order, to you ‘own’ the pet. That way, you can legally take pets with you. If not possible, call the police or RSPCA and know how to cover your tracks online.
These charities can help, by fostering pets if you have left a domestic abuse situation. Pets stay at an undisclosed address (usually in a different area) until you sort yourself out. You don’t see the pets, but are kept updated:
- Dog’s Trust Freedom Project
- Cats Protection Paws Protect
- Refuge 4 Pets (Devon & Cornwall)
- Endeavour Project (north west)
- Equation (Nottinghamshire)
- Pet Fostering Service Scotland
- Reducing the Risk (lists regional help)
Starting a Safe Havens Animal Program (PDF) is a free downloadable guide by a major US animal welfare charity. This excellent resource covers everything you need to know, and includes sample forms you can adapt, with help.
In the USA, Animal Legal Defense Fund is run by and for lawyers and law students, and can also help with prosecution cases and campaigning for tougher animal welfare laws. It also links to lawyers that can help with personal cases. In Australia, Lawyers for Animals run an animal law clinic.
Dog Bite Prevention
- This is the posture that children should use, when approached by an off-leash dog. Arms by the side and hands in front and looking down, dogs find this no threat. Blue Cross has useful info on how to prevent dog bites and The Blue Dog has a teacher toolbox to keep dogs & children safe. Most dog attacks are from dogs that live outside in yards. You can also find more tips to keep dogs safe around children.
- Always ask permission before saying hello, and turn your body to the side, so the dog can come to you (hold your hand out in a fist). Only pat a dog’s chest, back, neck or side, or ask the guardian what the dog likes. Do not pat dogs on the head (or hug them), nor stare direct into the eyes.
- Postal workers are also at risk. So keep unfriendly or guarding dogs secure when the postie visits (including secure in gardens) and use a letterbox guard, if necessary, to avoid fingers being bitten.
How to Break Up a Dog Fight
Images from Doggie Language
The Spruce Pets has tips on how to break up a dog fight. Forcing them apart usually won’t help. The author has many gentler tips including using water sprays, loud noises and using the ‘wheelbarrow technique’ which involves each person firmly grabbing hold of the back legs of each dog and walking backward to part them (pull the top dog off first if on top).
The circling enables the dog to follow a circular path with its front paws, to move ideally to an enclosed space, where it can no longer see the other dog (or is calm enough to attach a leash).