General Legal Advice Clinic

Dog Owners – The laws you should be aware of

Dog 3

At the GLA clinic, our typical queries often relate to areas such as employment and housing. However every so often, we do receive more unusual queries. One of these more unusual queries that proved especially interesting related to the law surrounding dogs. This got us thinking, as a dog owner, legally, what should you be aware of?


According to the Control of Dogs Order 1992, when a dog is in a public place it must wear a collar that states the name and address of its owner. A failure to do this is a criminal offence, enforceable by the local authority and can even result in a huge £5000 fine.

The law is less strict on micro-chipping. At the moment, a dog is not legally required to be micro-chipped. However there are some circumstances where a dog must be micro-chipped, namely;

  • If a dog is considered a dangerous dog for the purposes of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991;
  • If the dog has been lawfully docked;
  • If the dog is a racing greyhound;
  • If a pet travel scheme requires micro-chipping.

Despite it not being a legal requirement, micro chipping is an important anti theft measure and therefore every dog owner should seriously consider having their dog micro-chipped.

Cruelty to Dogs

Sadly dog cruelty is far too common, with statistics showing that 57% of cases dealt with by the RSPCA are cases that relate to dog cruelty.

Fortunately Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence to cause or allow a dog to suffer unnecessarily. If a person is convicted of this offence, they could face 6 months in prison or even a hefty fine of £20,000.

Additionally Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence to fail to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of your dog are met. Specifically as a dog owner this means ensuring the following are provided;

  • The need for a suitable environment;
  • The need for a suitable diet;
  • To exhibit normal behavior patterns;
  • To be housed;
  • To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

A failure to ensure these needs are met can result in a six month prison sentence, and you guessed it, a fine! This time of £5000.

Stray Dogs

Section 149 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 sets out the legal position on stray dogs and outlines that every local authority must have an officer that is responsible for dealing with strays. Once a stray is in custody of the local authority officer, the officer can serve notice on the owner of the stray to come and collect the stray. If the dog has not been claimed after seven days, the officer may do a number of things;

  • Find the stray a new home, whether it be with a person or at a dog shelter;
  • Where required have the dog put down in as humane a manner as possible.

The local authority is well placed to deal with strays. Therefore if you do come across a stray, one of the first things you should consider doing is contacting your local authority.

We hope you found the above information useful. If you would like to know more or indeed have any legal queries of your own (unusual or not) then do not hesitate to contact us. One of our student advisers will be happy to help.


By Chris Worlock, UoP GLA Paralegal

08/12/16 Law Clinic CAB Lunch, University of Portsmouth. All Rights Reserved - Helen Yates- T: +44 (0)7790805960 Local copyright law applies to all print & online usage. Fees charged will comply with standard space rates and usage for that country, region or state.

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