As a responsible dog owner, you need to know about dog
laws – your rights and responsibilities, in order to protect
yourself, your dog and other dogs.
Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act was introduced on April 6th 2007.
From this date, the Act repealed the Protection of Animals
Act 1911 and the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960. The
new Act increases and introduces new penalties to tackle
acts of cruelty, neglect, mutilation, tail docking, animal
fighting and the giving of pets as prizes. In addition to this
it introduces a duty of care for all pet owners to provide
for their animals a suitable environment, a suitable diet,
the ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, protection
from pain, suffering, injury and disease and consideration of
the animal’s needs to be housed with, or apart
from, other animals.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act
Under this Act, you could be fined up to £1,000 for breaching dog
control orders. Local authorities can make orders for standard
offences including: failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a
dog on a lead, not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when
directed to do so, permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs
are excluded and taking more than a specified number of dogs
on to land.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act also updates
the law on stray dogs by transferring the responsibility for strays
from the police to the local authorities. It is highly recommended
that your dog is microchipped and registered with Petlog, the
largest pet reunification scheme in the UK, as
this can prove extremely effective in locating a
lost pet. The Petlog Premium service can
even alert local vets and dog wardens when
an owner reports where their pet was lost.
If you lose your dog, you should stay in regular contact with the
local council, Petlog, vets, dog shelters, and put up posters in the
area where you lost it. (For outdoor flyers you may need to get
permission from your council)
Dog wardens are obliged to seize stray dogs. The finder of a stray
dog must return it to its owner (if known), or take it to the local
authority. It is illegal to take a found dog into your home without
reporting it to the police first. If you want to retain the dog, this
might be allowed, provided you are capable of looking after the
dog and agree to keep it for at least 28 days. However, the original
owner could still have a claim for the dog’s return.
Byelaws on noisy animals
If your dog’s barking causes a serious nuisance to neighbours, the
local authority can serve a noise abatement notice, which if unheeded
can result in you paying fines and legal expenses.
Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
Breeders who breed five or more litters per year must be licensed by
their local authority. Breeders with fewer litters must also be licensed if
they are carrying out a business of breeding dogs for sale.
Licensed breeders must:
a) Not mate a bitch less than 12 months old.
b) Not whelp more than six litters from a bitch.
c) Not whelp two litters within a 12 month period from the same bitch.
d) Keep accurate records.
e) Not sell a puppy until it is at least eight weeks of age, other than to
a keeper of a licensed pet shop or Scottish rearing establishment.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992
This mandates that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with
the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it, or
engraved on a tag. Your telephone number is optional (but advisable).
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (section 3)
It is a criminal offence (for the owner and/or the person in charge of
the dog) to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public
place, a place where it is not permitted to be, and some other areas.
A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has
injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds for reasonable
apprehension that it may do so. Something as simple as your dog
chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could lead to a
complaint, so ensure that your dog is under control at all times.
If your dog injures a person, it may be seized by the police and your
penalty may include a prison sentence and/or a ban on keeping dogs.
There is also an automatic presumption that your dog will
be destroyed (unless you can persuade the court that it is
not a danger to the public, in which case it may be subject
to a control order). You may also have to pay a fine,
compensation and costs.
Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997
The 1991 Act was amended by the Dangerous Dogs
(Amendment) Act 1997. The 1997 Act removed the
mandatory destruction order provisions on banned breeds
and re-opened the Index of Exempted Dogs for dogs
which the courts consider would not pose a risk to the
public. The courts were given discretion on sentencing, with
only courts able to direct that a dog be placed on the list of
Dogs of the following type are banned under the
Dangerous Dog Act:
* The Pit Bull Terrier
* Fila Brasiliero
* Dogo Argentino
* Japanese Tosa
The Control of Dogs Act 2010 (Scotland only)
The Act is enforced alongside the Dangerous Dogs Act in
Scotland and removes any reference to a dog’s ‘size and
power’ when determining whether or not it is out of control.
The legislation also covers attacks on private property and
introduces dog control notices. A notice may be served by
an authorised officer appointed by a local authority where a
dog has been out of control. The notice sets out the
reasons why an authorised officer considers the dog was
out of control and specifies what steps the recipient of the
notice must take to bring and keep the dog under control.
The Road Traffic Act 1988
It is an offence to have a dog on a designated road
without it being held on a lead. Local authorities may
have similar bye-laws covering public areas. Dogs
travelling in vehicles should not be a nuisance or in
any way distract the driver during a journey.
If a dog is injured in a car accident, the driver must
stop and give their details to the person in charge
of the dog. If there is no person in charge of the
dog, the incident must be reported to the police
within 24 hours.
Animals Act 1971
You could be liable for damage caused by your dog under this Act
or under some degree of negligence. It is highly advisable to have
third party liability insurance to cover this, something that is included
in most pet and some household insurance policies.
Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
Anyone boarding animals as a business (even at home) needs to be
licensed by the local authority.
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
Your dog must not worry (chase or attack) livestock (cattle, sheep,
goats, pigs, horses and poultry) on agricultural land, so keep your
dog on a lead around livestock. If your dog worries livestock, the
farmer has the right to stop your dog (even by shooting your dog in
Dogs Act 1871
It is a civil offence if a dog is dangerous (to people or animals) and
not kept under proper control (generally regarded as not on a lead
nor muzzled). This law can apply wherever the incident happened.
The dog can be subject to a control or a destruction order and you
may have to pay costs.
Contact Petlog on 0844 4633 999
or visit www.petlog.org.uk