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Dogs of Law

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Dogs of Law analyses the major criminal legislation that affects dogs and our legal duty in caring for them. The analysis of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 [DDA] as amended is of concern to many people who own 'prohibited' dogs as well as members of the public, often children, who are attacked by them. The recent amendment by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 [ABCPA] is the most important legislation that relates to and reflects the failure to control dangerous animals. So it examines in-depth the crucial legal aspects that will affect most owners and most victims and all dogs. It is a deliberate choice to cover the main criminal statute only as otherwise the book would simply be too unwieldy and of limited value to the potential users. For the book is intended for use by both lawyers and discerning laymen. The position under the DDA is that a dog which was otherwise of a good disposition may be deemed to be 'dangerous' if it attacks another person or more likely a child or indeed another dog. Often the owner does not even realise his soft sweet-natured pet 'Staffie' named Springsteen is actually a crossbreed Pit Bull Terrier previously named Genghis and so is in breach of the Act by simply being born. As a result he could be sentenced to death. This book is directly aimed at answering the practical needs of the animal keeper and owner. It informs the reader of what is their best and worst position namely: whether they have a defence; if so, can they elect for a Trial; if no, what is the best defence mitigation and likely sentence; will the sentence include a disqualification from owning animals; and do they need expert evidence for their defence or mitigation? The benefits to the reader are that the contents are specific as a complete guide to the most important Act which most practitioners and those involved in animal welfare would face on a daily basis. The approach is analytical so each and every section of the respective Act is explained in conjunction with a consideration of the relevant case law. The DDA and Sentencing Guidelines are included in full in the Appendices. The Chapter headings are divided so the text can be followed at a glance and are cross-referenced to other relevant sections. The Index is clear and complete for easy reference to the text. While there are no distracting footnotes, each and every authority under the Act is analysed and criticised where they are found to be wanting. Hence the reader can consider the reason and right course of action before taking the decision to act or refrain from action. Dogs of Law has a wide potential readership as it will provide guidance to practitioners who practise in the Magistrates' Court and the Crown Court. It would also be useful to those appealing by Case Stated and Judicial Review and to the Court of Appeal. However the reader does not have to be legally qualified as in form and format it is a reference source for people who have a direct and indirect interest in animal law. Although the book is rooted in English Law by virtue of my own experience and knowledge, it is relevant to other jurisdictions that are based on common law. As it is a practical book rather than an academic tome it would be of value to savvy organisations like the International Society for Animal Rights and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. All in all it is the seminal work on the subject of Dogs of Law. The practical approach of this book is the unique advantage for the reader as the subject is analysed with them in mind. That is the reason the concentration is on the main criminal statute only as otherwise the book would be unwieldy. The potential reader needs a clear and concise and comprehensive book that deals with all the case law and interpretation of the legislation. While it will provide guidance to practitioners, however the reader does not have to be legally qualified as it is a reference source for people who have an interest in animal law. That includes organisations that exist to promote animal welfare and animal rights and the staff of County Councils and Local Government. As the book seeks to help those seeking to help animals it provides a guide for vets, care workers and judicious lay people who run sanctuaries.
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About the Author

Noel Sweeney has been a practising barrister for over 25 years. He specialises in criminal law and human rights and animal law. He has been a lecturer on all areas of law to business students up to degree level and teaching the Human Rights Act. He is particularly qualified to write Dogs of Law because of his long-standing involvement in researching and writing and lecturing on all aspects of animal welfare and animal rights. In relation to animal law specifically he has covered many unusual areas of animal law which as a result of being a practitioner allows him an insight to the legal aspects that may not be considered by others. So in that context he speaks as he writes: with an informed and authoritative voice. The areas he has researched and lectured and written on include: dangerous dogs and dangerous people; the problem of identification of animals in a criminal trial; the forensic analysis of animals in relation to a crime committed on them or by their owners or other miscreants; the connexion between racism and sexism and speciesism. Rest assured if it is an issue to be faced it will be analysed with a gimlet eye by the author. For his scalpel pen will unearth the legal position between us and our Darwinian cousins and criticise it wherever it is found to be wanting. Noel Sweeney is one of the foremost animal law advocates in the country. His experience and knowledge of the subject has resulted in the seminal work on criminal law and animal welfare and rights: Dogs of Law.

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