Considering pet insurance in the United Kingdom? Arranging for pet insurance is one of the most responsible things you can do as a pet owner. Not only do you need to protect your pet against any unforeseen medical emergencies, you also need to pay any costs for damages or injuries caused by your pet. But be aware that while most types of dogs can be protected with pet insurance, insurance policies for dangerous dogs are virtually nonexistent. Depending on the circumstances, almost any dog can be deemed dangerous.
Whilst there are many insurance carriers to select from it is nearly impossible to take out a policy on what the law deems dangerous dogs. Over the years some particular dog breeds, fairly or unfairly, have become associated as dogs that are dangerous to the well-being of the general public. You must understand whether or not your dog falls under the dangerous category before you can secure an insurance policy. Should your dog be considered to be dangerous, you will be denied the policy at the outset, or will be denied compensation on future liability claims.
Dangerous Dogs Act
Originally, the 1871 Dogs Act listed several provisions regarding responsible dog ownership and standards of suitable treatment. In 1991 the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed to list much more specific details as to what constitutes a dangerous dog.
Typically, dangerous dogs are known by their breed such as the pit bull or Japanese tosa. These breeds are popular with owners wanting an aggressive dog for fighting competitions or some level of social status. Owning, breeding, or selling these dog breeds contravenes responsible pet ownership and puts the general public in possible danger.
Not so dangerous dogs
But it is not just the expected breeds that fall under this label. The Dangerous Dogs Act notes that any dog, regardless of breed, purebred or cross-mix, or size can be dangerous. Your dog can be a problem if it is found to be dangerously out of control ‘on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that is will injure any person.’ At the same time, your dog must pose a risk in a public place which is anyplace ‘to which the public have or are permitted to have access.’
The One-bite myth
A common myth is that every dog is entitled to their first bite; a seemingly one-time act or aggression or a sort of first offence. This is not true and you will be held liable for any injuries resulting from your dogs actions even if they never showed signs of aggression before. The law will consider whether this dog is likely to continue behaving in this manner and particularly under similar circumstances.
Dogs generally at fault
You are responsible for your dog and can be sued because of your dog’s actions. If your dog is under the care of someone else, that person can also be named in a legal proceeding. Should your dog harm a person (not necessarily another animal), the law tends to favour that your dog should be destroyed. You then need to prove that your dog will not continue to threaten public safety to avoid any such unpleasant outcome.
Pet insurance and liability coverage
You have a wide choice of insurance companies in the UK that provide comprehensive policies to protect your pet’s health. At the same time, you can protect yourself from expensive court costs in the event your pet caused injuries to another person. But these companies list dangerous dogs as part of the insurance policies’ exclusions. Typically you would not be able to take out a policy on a pit bull.
Your pet can be shifted to the dangerous category depending on their actions, denying you any compensation in the event of a claim or action brought against you. You will then have to pay all related expenses out of your own pocket.
Tips to protect yourself and your pet:
*Be a responsible pet owner; your dog should be around for companionship and not for fighting, breeding, or preparing for aggressive behaviour.
*Enroll in dog obedience courses to help you and your dog become more disciplined and to encourage your dog to socialise with other animals and people.
*Yearly veterinarian visits can help to establish a good track record as a safe animal and a responsible pet owner; you may need the testimony of a veterinarian if your dog suddenly acts out of the ordinary.
*Keeping your pet on a leash and/or muzzled are helpful to maintain control over your pet and prevent your dog from acting erratically if surprised or meeting someone new.
*Locating pet insurance in the UK has never been easier and there are many great companies to choose from. Go to www.dogowner.co.uk, which is a great general information site that provides excellent information on how and why to obtain pet insurance. You will also find a list of popular pet insurance companies where you can easily compare policy features and prices.
You and your pet are a team, working together as social members of society. As a responsible pet owner, you can help to reduce the number of dangerous dogs in the UK and protect yourself from unpleasant expenses due to claims. Pet health insurance policies protect you and your pet against losses; they do not allow dangerous dogs to act at will.
Learn more about the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act at: www.opsi.gov.uk under ACTS, or www.doglaw.co.uk.