What are Dog Laws regarding dog ownership – What you need to know!
There are approx. 8.5 million dogs in the UK – 24% of households have dogs. All owners should be aware of dog laws.
Tags and Microchipping
Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, there is a legal obligation for dog owners when in a public place to use a collar and tag on their dog, which shows the owners name and full address. As much information as possible on the tag is a good idea, even if the dog is chipped. If the owner or person in charge of the dog is found to be in a public place without this identification, a criminal offence has been committed and a fine could be enforced. It will also become compulsory from 6th April 2016 to have your dog micro-chipped which must be properly done by a trained person or vet practice to make sure it is inserted in the correct place. There are restrictions on who can implant a microchip.
Every local authority must have a dog warden to deal with stray dogs. There are two scenarios here, dogs that are genuinely lost and those that are left unattended because their owners just do not care. 102,000 stray dogs were collected throughout England and Wales last year; 47,000 did not get back home because most of these did not have identification. All chipped dogs should get back home, as along as their details are kept up to date on the Pet Log database. When a stray dog is picked up and it is showing identification details, the warden will serve a notice giving 7 days for the owner to collect the dog and pay expenses incurred for:
- the cost of kennelling
- a prescribed fee of £25
- costs involved with detaining the dog
- any vets fees incurred in the event of an injury.
If the dog is not collected after 7 clear days, the ownership is extinguished and the warden may dispose of the dog by:
- selling or giving it to a good home who, in his opinion, will care properly for the dog
- passing to a rescue centre
- if unable to re-home or pass to a rescue centre, the dog will be put to sleep.
If a dog is picked up and handed in by a member of the public, that person may, after 7 days if the dog has not been claimed, apply to the council to keep it. If claim is approved and dog rehomed with the finder, the true owner still has up to 28 days to make a claim on the dog but will have to go through the small claims court. Not many people take this action however, and the longer it is left to pursue, the less likely chance there is to win.
Some dogs are Houdini’s and are continuously getting loose and picked up by the warden. Extra care should be taken in this case as a Community Protection Notice could be served with a fine.
The Police will only get involved with stray dogs if it has been the cause of an accident or is a dangerous dog and likely to be harmful.
Councils can no longer create new DCO’s (Dog Control Orders) and they will gradually be replaced over time with Public Space Protection Orders where there is no restriction on the types. The types of Dog Control Orders currently in place are:
- failing to pick up poop
- not keeping a dog on a lead
- not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer
- permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded
- taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land
The last pointer should be noted by dog walkers, as the limited number of dogs in the charge of one person at any one time is 6 dogs, in some areas it is 4.
The main problem we are faced with is dog fouling, this has become more strict in dog laws over recent years and a fine is given if anyone is seen not picking up after their dog. Some councils are now taking this more seriously and one is asking dog owners to prove they have the means to pick up after their dog i.e. showing they are carrying poo bags! Another is considering taking DNA samples of all dogs. How that will be policed?? If these suggestions are voted in and successful, other areas will follow.
Community Protection Notices – DOGBO’s !!
These are brand new and can be served if there is an activity of a persistent or continuing nature which is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life. Examples of these activities are:
- a dog who is always off lead and behaves aggressively
- dog noise nuisance
- dog on dog aggression
- dog on cat aggression
- dog continually escaping
- dog aggression to the postman or other delivery people
In the event of an activity being brought to the attention of the council, they will serve a written warning requesting the activity to stop. If this is not complied with, a Community Protection Notice with specific requests e.g. dog training, will be served. There could be a fine up to a max of £2,000 and/or forfeit of the dog if notices are ignored.
Public Spaces Protection Order
Existing dog laws will be lapsed by October 2017 and replaced with PSPO’s, although Councils may start to bring in PSPO’s before then. They may not be in paper format and possibly could just appear on the respective websites. They could cover anything, but will include some areas of dog ownership as they will be replacing current Dog Control Order’s.
- Noise Nuisance – Environmental Protection Notice 1990
- This is defined as being “noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance”
People have a right to live peacefully and there is no legal barking decibel level! The volume, duration of barking and time of day will be taken into account and a complainant does not have to live next door, just within hearing distance. There is no level of duration of barking required, basically anything someone considers to be a nuisance. There is an unlimited amount of fine for noise nuisance under this notice.
For further reading on what are dog laws