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My neighbours informed me that they have two cats now and asked what would happen if they wandered into my garden. I’m not 100% sure; they have never really seen a cat, at a guess they would chase them out. They are always supervised in the garden and are never alone.

But if one of my dogs got hold of the cat, what would happen from a legal point of view?

Who would be liable? Would my dog be destroyed?

My local authority seems to think it’s a civil issue between the two owners if it happens on ‘private land.’ But I’ve seen a lot of information from both sides.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Mar 11 at 11:49
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Criminal liability

The relevant legislation here is the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, particularly Sections 3 and 10.

If a dog is dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place)—

(a)the owner; and

(b)if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog,

is guilty of an offence

Defined as:

For the purposes of this Act a dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog, whether or not it actually does so...

Notably, this act only covers your dog being a danger to humans and service dogs. For it to be deemed dangerously out of control and you to receive criminal charges, there would have to be a reasonable concern that it could potentially attack, for example, someone's child.

I can't find any precedent where an owner being unable to prevent a dog attacking a smaller animal was used as evidence of it being a danger to humans. You'd probably avoid criminal charges.

Civil Liability

This one's much more straightforward. Allowing, through negligence, your neighbour's cat to be attacked andinjured by your dog could leave you liable for damages. The most likely damages would be the related vet bills.

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    Maybe a stupid question, surely on the balance of things, they neighbor allowing their cat to wander onto private property that is known to have a dog is the negligent action here. So maybe the vet fees would be shared? Or is every home owner in a 50 m radius mean to sanatise their backyards in case there are wandering cats. – Gregory Currie Mar 11 at 15:07
  • @GregoryCurrie I'm guessing it's different in Australia but in the UK, it's common for pet cats to be allowed to roam outside. – Studoku Mar 11 at 15:30
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It could be deemed dangerously out of control

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:

  • it attacks someone’s animal
  • the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

You are also civilly liable for any damage your dog does - including injuring or killing other animals.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Mar 11 at 11:49
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    While it pains me to agree with the OP, the relevant legislation does not support this answer, only specifying "For the purposes of this Act a dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog" – Studoku Mar 11 at 11:57

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