The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is the most prominent of the various laws that cover dog ownership in the UK.

The act bans the breeding and sale or exchange of four kinds of dog – pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosas, the Dogo Argentinos, and the Fila Brasileiros. Cross-breeds of those dogs are covered by the law.

Any other dogs “appearing… to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose” are also banned.

Under the act, a dog classed as being “dangerously out of control in a public place” can be destroyed. The owner can be fined and imprisoned for up to six months.

If a dog injures someone, the owner can be jailed for up to two years.

Other pieces of legislation covering dogs include the Animals Act 1971, which says the keeper of an animal is liable for any damage it causes, the Guard Dogs Act 1975 and the Dogs Act 1871.

The Animal Welfare Act, which came into force in March 2007, also includes codes of practice for keeping dogs.

Anyone with information relating to dogfighting activities can call the RSPCA cruelty line in confidence on 0870 5555 999.