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DDA Watch Exempted Dog Campaign:

My Dog Votes

Please help to campaign for change and raise awareness against further draconian dog law.

What is it?

It’s called a ‘Statutory Instrument’ (S.I) – it’s a piece of secondary legislation which amends the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA) – the breed specific part.

The ‘Statutory Instrument is called – the Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015 No.138.

It can be found online here

When did it happen?

This S.I was made and laid before parliament in 2015.

There was no public consultation or debate that we can find-indeed this type of secondary legislation isn’t required to be publicly debated prior to introduction.

Who does it affect?

It impacts on dogs subject to BSL-section 1 of the DDA. The alterations are presently affecting those with dogs registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs and those whose dogs are subject to section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991, as amended.

What is the issue?

Exempted Dogs - Previous, the person registered as the owner of an exempted dog could nominate someone else to be the agreed registered keeper of the dog, if they themselves could no longer care and take charge of their dog, for ANY reason and this has been changed. The changes can be and have been a death sentence to dogs who are affected.

The exempted dog, which has been found by a court of law, not to present a danger to public safety, can have a separate registered owner and keeper, the registered owner remains the same for the lifetime of the dog.

Previously to transfer keepership (enabling an exempted dog to be re-homed) the application paperwork was provided by the Index of Exempted Dogs and completed; there was no court action to complete the process. The new keeper must abide by all the rules and regulations attached to the exemption scheme which includes taking out their own 3rd party liability insurance cover.

Previously, if the registered keeper could no longer care for the dog, the dog could be returned to the registered owner, who could appoint another keeper. The keeper’s accommodation is checked for suitability by the police or Defra.

The changes have meant that the transfer of keepership will ONLY be possible now via an application to the magistrates’ court within time limits specified and a person can ONLY be substituted as the named person on the exemption certificate if the person in charge of the dog is either dead or seriously ill.

In addition, an exempted dog is now unable to be kept at a different address to whom the certificate is issued to, for longer than 30 days over a year; anyone for example who is regularly working away from home, visiting family, undergoing medical treatment/hospitalisation, travelling/working overseas, could be affected and their dog destroyed.

How can it be changed?

There are parliamentary procedures relating to Statutory Instruments (this type of S.I is classed as a negative resolution).
A S.I may be amended or revoked by the authority that made it and also by statute.

When a S.I is made, it is then laid at Parliament, after this process it can be subject to revocation if a resolution for annulment is passed within 40 days – it can be revoked if either House passes a resolution annulling within the time limit-that time limit has now passed.

It is also possible that another S.I can be introduced to bring about an amendment(s); a further S.I can also be made and laid at Parliament, bringing about a further change to the existing position.

A S.I can also be struck down by the courts, if found to be ‘beyond their powers’ powers which are given in the parent Act (in this case the DDA) i.e., if the SI is an unreasonable use of powers given by the parent Act (the piece of law it is attached to).

The process happens in Parliament and involves politicians – who are likely not to know about it, unless you contact them and tell them, even then they may not agree or may not care, but we have to try, its part of a process of lobbying for change and creating awareness of the issues surrounding BSL and its implementation.

How You Can Help:

Please contact your own MP and draw their attention to the S.I – tell them what you feel about it, how it will affect innocent dogs and their families and ask them to support change, ask them what their views are, what they intend to do about it.

Whether they will press for change via a further S.I as this one has not been revoked.

Remind them that this issue is important to you and you can also tell them that this will affect how you will be VOTING future elections.

How and where?

1) Find out who your MP and other elected representatives are, write to them, send a message or find their contact details here by entering your postcode:


2) Write and send your letters to:

* Your MP
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

You can also make an appointment to see your MP in person.

* Defra

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Rt.Hon.Michael Gove MP, Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

Minister of State - George Eustice MP,
Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

3) Spread the word on social networking sites #mydogvotes #defra #endbsl #DDAWatch #exempteddog

4) Contact the larger animal welfare and canine organisations and ask them for their views, for support and to campaign for change:

The Dogs Trust
The Blue Cross
The RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons)
The Kennel Club

5) Please sign and share our online petition to revoke or amend S.I 2015 No.138 -

Key Points to consider in your letters/emails:

Dogs which are found to be a prohibited ‘type’ can be ordered by the court to be added to the Index of Exempted Dogs (run by Defra) and once certain conditions, as laid out in law, are met, which include neutering, micro-chipping and insuring within a set time-frame, issued with an exemption certificate.

The court can only order exemption, if satisfied that the dog is not a danger to public safety; the court must now look at the temperament and past behaviour of the dog, whether the applicant is a ‘fit and proper’ person to be in charge of the dog and any other relevant circumstances.

Exempted dogs and their owners/keepers must follow strict rules and regulations which include muzzling and leashing in public places.

The changes have and are affecting exempted dogs, much loved family members and companions - dogs which have already been found by a court of law, not to be a danger to public safety.

A family canine member may need to be appointed a new person to care for it, for a variety of reasons, including, housing issues, accident/injury, employment/work commitments, family commitments, divorce/separation. Due to the changes, someone can only apply via a court application, which will be a complicated process for the average person to follow, to be the keeper if the previous person in charge of the dog is either dead or seriously ill.

Due to the S.I a husband/wife/partner/family member/friend or anyone else cannot apply to become the registered keeper unless the current person in charge of the dog is either dead or seriously ill.

The process for a rescue/animal welfare charity/organisation to register and re-home an exempted dog should be possible and straightforward.

If the person who the exemption certificate has been issued to is away and at a different address to their dog for more than 30 days over the course of a year, the dog must die, this cannot be fair nor just, it is not necessary.

Please keep all correspondence polite.

What should be amended?

The restriction requiring the appointed person to be dead or seriously ill should be removed-there should not be limited reasons laid down in law to allow for a transfer of the person appointed to take charge of the dog.

The requirement that the exempted dog and appointed person must reside at the same address save for 30 days over a year, should be removed: The Index of Exempted Dogs could be informed if the owner/keeper is away for more than 30 consecutive days. 

The process for a rescue/animal welfare charity/organisation to register and re-home an exempted dog via a transfer of keepership should be possible, straightforward and not restricted.

Please be a voice for exempted dogs!

DDA Watch Ltd

Petition Signatures Needed - Support our online petition.


DDA Watch Ltd is a not-for-profit company, registered in England & Wales, registration number 7393352.

Care has been taken to ensure that our information is correct. The information and advice given by DDA Watch is for general purposes and is intended for guidance only, it does not constitute legal advice. The information and opinions expressed should not be relied on or used as a substitute for legal advice, if you require details concerning your rights, legal advice or find yourself affected by legislation it is recommended that you seek professional legal advice. 

Information given is for England and Wales only. Legislation in Scotland and N.Ireland may differ.


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