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Clampdown on out-of-control dogs

Friday February 11th 2011

Authorities in Northern Ireland will have greater powers to deal with aggressive or out-of-control dogs, thanks to the passing of new legislation.

Under The Dogs (Amendment) Bill, voted for by members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, dog owners will have to get microchips put in their pets.

Pet Insurance does not normally cover the procedure to insert a microchip, having it done may reduce the overall cost of cover

The new law also makes it a criminal offence to allow a dog to attack other pets.

Council wardens will now have more powers to deal with an animal which has breached a control law.

Ultimately, they could take a dog away from an owner.

Dogs must always be on leads in public and there are specified areas where dogs are not allowed.

In the most serious cases owners could be made to take lessons in keeping dogs under control or have aggressive pets neutered. If the conditions are not kept, owners can be fined as much as £2,500.

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew said: "I hope the passage of this new Bill sends out the message that casual and careless dog ownership is not acceptable in our community. The owners of dogs who attack people, livestock and - for the first time - other people's pets, face substantial penalties and the new control conditions will help dog wardens enforce the law.

"These new controls will shift the focus on to the actual behaviour and management of individual problem dogs, whatever their breed. The legislation will help us tackle the minority of irresponsible owners who undermine everything that is good and positive about dog ownership."

The microchips used in dogs are about the size of a grain of rice and can be put in by vets. Your dog's identity is held on a database which links it to you so that if it is ever lost your pet can be returned safely.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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