A well-behaved, perfectly-trained dog could actually see you breaking the law and getting a huge fine, experts say.
Many responsible dog owners will want to educate their dogs to a high standard, so that the beloved animal will be obedient and walk side by side with its owner.
Some well-meaning dog lovers can be so confident in their pet’s prowess that they might be tempted to walk their dog off-leash, including on the sidewalk by the side of a road.
But if you’re one of the many Brits who allow their dogs to roam off leash on or near the motorway, you could end up in big trouble with the law – and that includes potential jail time and a invoice for Â£ 20,000.
Experts of the car leasing site, Select car rental, want to warn dog owners of the dangers to make sure they don’t break down.
Graham Conway, Managing Director of Select Car Leasing, explains: âIf your dog is well trained, good for you. It’s a brilliant thing to achieve and you should be proud of being a responsible pet owner.
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âHowever, don’t fall into the trap of just being too smug or too confident.
âYou may have seen well behaved dogs walk off leash along busy roads, or even cross busy roads walking alongside their owners. To the viewer, it may seem that the situation is under control. The viewer might even be suitably impressed.
âBut in the eyes of the law, it’s an offense, giving you a criminal record and a heavy fine.
âAnd you can understand the reasoning behind the legislation. If your dog suffers from a momentary lack of concentration or obedience and ends up hitting the road, he may cause serious injury to other road users, as well as himself.
âIf the worst were to happen because of your uncontrollable dog, you could face six months in prison and a fine of Â£ 20,000. “
The law regarding dogs on a leash near roads is very clear.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is a criminal offense for a dog to be on a “designated road” without being kept on a leash.
Local authorities also have the power to issue a dog control order, which comes with a fine of up to Â£ 1,000 – which can be issued in the form of a fixed penalty notice in place of a chase.
The Highway Code, rule 56, also says: âDo not leave a dog alone on the road. Keep it on a leash when walking on the sidewalk, road, or path shared with cyclists, horse riders, and pedestrians. This includes bridle paths.
There are some exceptions, however, such as dogs used to care for sheep or livestock in a trade or business or for trained dogs working for the police or the armed forces.
However, Graham Conway of Select Car Leasing points out, âThese exemptions only apply when the dog is in service. If the dog has just gone out for a night walk with his owner after completing his chores, the same rules for leashes apply.
There are other important things to remember for dog owners – especially if you are one of the many millions of Britons new to dog ownership who acquired a new furry family member during the lockdown. pandemic.
The Select car rental The automobile expert reveals: “The Road Traffic Act 1998, Article 27, also specifies that all dogs – whether near a road or not – must be kept under control by the owner or the person. who is in charge at that time.
âThis means that if you pass your dog’s leash to your young child – however well-intentioned that act is – and the dog runs away as your child loses grip on the leash, you may face lawsuits.
âThe law clearly states that reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure that the dog does not cause injury or damage by straying on a road. And leaving your dog off-leash near a freeway just because you think he’s foolproof isn’t “reasonable care.”
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, 3.2 million UK households acquired a pet at the start of the pandemic, nearly half of which are dogs.
Meanwhile, Select Car Leasing also recently warned of the dangers of vehicle airbags if you let your dog “ride a shotgun” with you in the front passenger seat.
A spokesperson for Select Car Leasing said: âMost dog owners will know that they need to keep their pets properly restrained when in a car, as stipulated by the highway code.
âBut many owners don’t know whether dogs are allowed in the front seat or not. It’s kind of a gray area.
“While not particularly recommended – dogs usually need to be in the backseat or in the trunk for their own safety – there are many owners who let their dogs drive a shotgun, especially if they have a shotgun. a sports car that only has two seats in the first place.
âBut you should only have your dog by your side while driving if you are able and know how to turn off the front passenger airbag, as some vehicles don’t actually have a deactivation function.
âFailure to deactivate the airbag could result in catastrophic injury to a dog. An airbag is designed to protect a human, not a dog, and the padding is just in the wrong place.
âWhen an airbag deploys, it does so with such force that it could even crush a dog crate.
âWe have also heard of cases where a dog has been catapulted towards the driver as a result of the airbag being triggered, causing serious injury to both the dog and the motorist.
“We urge all dog owners, especially those who have a dog locked up and new to dog ownership, to be aware of the dangers.”
Some cars allow the deactivation of the front passenger airbag – but you should consult your vehicle manufacturer’s guide before taking such action.
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