The Law pertaining to dogs

What is the Law Regarding ID Tags and Walking Dogs?

Dear Pippa,

I have recently bought a puppy and after having his vaccinations he is ready to start going outside. Could you advise me on identification and the vital parts of the law pertaining to walking dogs?

Hannah, Folkestone

Dear Hannah,

What a good question, there are many areas of the law associated with dog handling, which I will try to clear up.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 specifies that any dog in a public place must be properly identifiable. Dogs must wear a collar detailing the name and address, including the postcode, of the owner. These details can be written or engraved on either the collar or a tag attached to the collar. The owner's telephone number is optional. Certain service dogs and dogs for the blind are exceptions. You can be fined up to £5,000 if your dog does not have this

It is not a legal requirement but is highly advisable to have your dog Microchipped. Microchipping provides a permanent, inexpensive form of identification that cannot be lost, altered, or intentionally removed. Petlog has a database of over 3 million animals residing in the UK; the most common being dogs and cats. Microchips are no bigger than a grain of rice and are inserted in the scruff of the pet's neck. Once implanted with a microchip, your pet's details will be added to the database. Each microchip has a unique identification number, once implanted it can be scanned to find the details of the pet's home and owner.

Under The 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. A 'Public place' is defined as including any place 'to which the public have or are permitted to have access'. This part of the Dangerous Dogs Act applies to every single dog in England & Wales, no matter whether it is a pure bred dog, cross or a mongrel and regardless of its size.

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. Breeds that are banned in the UK under the act are American Pit Bull Terriers, Fila Brasiliero, Dogo Argentino and Japanese Tosa.

The Countryside Code requires you to control your dog so that it does not scare or disturb farm animals or wildlife. When using the new access rights over open country and common land, you must keep your dog on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July - all year round near farm animals, and to follow any official signs. You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths, as long as it is under close control, but keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. By law, farmers are entitled to destroy a dog that injures or worries their animals.

Under The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 it is vital to remove your dogs faeces. Dog mess contains eggs from a parasite causing the Toxocariasis infection, which can lead to blindness, disability, asthma, epileptic fits, dizziness and nausea. Owners can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £50, refusal to pay this or persistent offenders could be taken to court to face a fine of up to £1000.