Part E - Examples of best practice
This section outlines some suggested techniques for local authority officers to help determine the best course of action to bring the dog under proper control. The table provided below is simply a guide to consider. Local authorities will of course assess each case on its individual merits before particular DCN measures are considered and may deal with similar types of issues in a different way dependant on the circumstances.
Best practice of investigating DCN complaint:
Normally you will receive a phone call or email alerting you to a complaint about an incident involving a dog. Advise to first make contact with that person and arrange to take a statement.
During the statement taking it is It is important to steer the conversation to the relevant questions and to ask and record the details appropriately. Eg Were you put in a state of fear and alarm when the incident happened? Was there anyone else present at the time ?
(Sometimes the complainer does not know the details of the person who was in charge of the dog involved in the incident) it is still recommended that a statement is taken in case a similar case occurs in the future and you can tie up the two incidents, (these incidents can then be added to a DCN should you serve one in the future).
(N.B if the person does not know the owner/person in charge of the dog you could send them a blank template of the statement asking them to complete the details and return, this way it saves time from you obtaining the statement but at least you have something on file if required in the future).
It is next recommended to visit the alleged "proper person" / owner of the dog and obtain a statement from them. During this process it is important to ask relevant questions in relation to the dog / incident. When visiting the owner of the dog who we are considering for the service of a DCN in addition to asking about the incident consideration is also to be given to how the dog behaves and interacts with the investigating officer, the owner and their family and also how obedient the dog is. Get the owner / proper person to sign the statement.
Next decide what action if any is required - this could be: Verbal / written warning or serving of a DCN.
The content of a DCN will of course depend on the specific circumstances of each case.
However, when thinking of the content of a DCN you may often find that you tend to use the same type of conditions. It could be helpful therefore to keep a table /word document containing these conditions so that it is easier for you when issuing a notice in future. Some of the conditions that you could consider using are as follows:
|Step||Additional Instruction||If appropriate, select date by which the step is to be taken by|
|Should you rehome your dog, you must inform the Authorised Officers of the name and address of the new owner||This is not a requirement to re-home the dog. It applies, only if you choose to do so.||Officers must be informed as soon as arrangements are made for the dog to be rehomed.|
|When the dog is outwith your garden and within the boundaries of a settlement it must be on a lead no longer than one metre.||Boundaries of settlement means within the built up area (this includes public parks and open spaces)||Immediately|
|When the dog is outwith your garden and outwith the boundaries of a settlement it must be on a lead no longer than five metres.||Outwith the boundaries of settlement means open country outside a town or village.||Immediately|
|Ensure that when the dog is put out into a garden area, it has no means of escape.||Dog to be supervised and on suitable lead/tether and/or adequate fencing of perimeter of garden to prevent escape.||Immediately|
|When the dog is exercised off lead it must wear a suitable muzzle||The muzzle should be appropriate for the size and breed of dog and fitted correctly and securely||Immediately|
|The dog must wear a muzzle at all times whilst in a public place, or a place where the public have access.||Make sure that the muzzle is appropriate for size and breed of dog and is fitted correctly and securely||Immediately|
|Undertake training with your dog to modify and manage any unwanted behavioural issues, particularly in cases where the dog has an aggression problem||Inform the authorised officer of the planned training arrangements. You can attend training classes, seek one to one behavioural help or undertake your own training provided it is effective.||Arrangements for training should be made within 2 weeks, and should commence no later than 2 months after the date of the notice.|
|Undertake adequate training to ensure that the dog: Responds to commands from owner / person in charge of the dog. Ensure the dog does not attempt to lunge bite or act in an aggressive or over excited manner with people or other animals.||Inform the authorised officer of the planned training arrangements. You can attend training classes, seek one to one behavioural help or undertake your own training provided it is effective.||Arrangements for training should be made within 2 weeks, and should commence no later than 2 months after the date of the notice.|
When serving a DCN it is recommended that you try to make an appointment to see the "proper person"/ dog owner this is so you can explain the notice to them and explain exactly what they need to do.
It is also recommended that you obtain a photograph of the dog at this stage so that if there is a further incident in future the photo may help to identify the dog should a breach occur.
It is advised that the notice is served by two authorised officers and an Execution of service document is obtained.
On occasion it is recommended that if there is dispute as to who is the owner / proper person of the dog that you may need to consider serving two notices (one on each individual).
It is likely that there will be occasions when the proper person refuses to engage with the authorised officer making it difficult to glean full details of the dog. It is still possible to serve a DCN with partial details of the dog . Full details should be provided when microchip details are provided (a condition of the DCN and you could obtain the details from the Microchip).
Breach of a DCN
As failure to comply with a DCN is a criminal offence, it is important when speaking with the "proper person" that this is done with another authorised officer.