Responsibilities of owning a dog

MY NEIGHBOUR leaves his dog to run free while he is out all day and it comes into my garden – what does the law say about dog owners’ responsibilities? RR

DOG OWNERS’ responsibilities come under several headings – including responsibility if the dog causes injury or damage to third parties or their property, responsibility if its barking causes a nuisance – and responsibility not to let it stray.

Article 1385 of the Code Civil covers the fact that owners – or the person who is placed in charge of a dog - are responsible for harm.

To be insured for this owners should check if they may be covered on their main household insurance for responsibilité civile with regard to the dog, or otherwise take out a specific policy.

A dog that barks too often and disturbs the neighbours could be considered to be causing a trouble anormal de voisinage and the subject of complaints to the local mayor or police.

Similarly, the local police or mairie would be the port of call to complain about a dog that strays out of control.

The rules on this come under the Code Rural, starting at article L211-22, which states that mayors should put in place local bylaws preventing pets from straying and stipulating that they can be taken to a pound if they are found to be out of the owner or other responsible person’s control.

It further says that people who find an animal out of control on their property can seize it, or have the municipal police or other public official seize it, and take it to the pound.

The law says a dog is considered to be straying if it is not being supervised, is out of range for the owner to call it back, or is more than 100m away from the owner or person responsible for it.

Allowing a dog to stray may also incur fines, of up to €38, or up to €150 if the dog is one of the species considered ‘dangerous’.

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