Dogs are mans best friends and there are plenty of law in place to protect them.
According to the Kennel Club there are nine laws that all dog owners should know.
Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 was the first pet law signed by the government since the Protection of Animals Act 1911 - which it largely replaced.
It introduced new penalties to tackle dogs and other animals from unnecessary suffering, acts of cruelty, neglect, mutilating animals, docking a dog's tail, poisoning animals and animal fighting – including dog fighting.
In addition the Act introduced a duty of care for pet owners and that they need to provide their animals with a suitable environment, suitable diet, consideration of the animal’s needs to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
Leaving your dog in a hot car may be considered an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Every year dogs do die in hot cars.
Under the law animals cannot be sold to children under 16 years outside a family context and animals cannot be given as prizes to children under 16 years.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
Dog owners who commit offences under this act face fines of up to £1,000.
The act introduced dog control orders – which have been introduced by local authorities - for the following offences:
- 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
- taking more than a specified number of dogs on to land
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
If you take your dog for walks in the countryside then you need to be aware of this law.
It is against the law for your dog to worry livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry) on agricultural land.
With worrying including:
- attacking livestock, or
- chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce, or
– being at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.
So dogs must be kept on leads if you are walking them near livestock.
Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare Act) 1999
If you are planning on breeding dogs chances are that you will require a license from your local authority.
The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare Act) 1999 says that any breeder who breeds five litters or more in any period of 12 months requires a licence.
So called ‘hobby breeders', and produce less than 5 litters in any period of 12 months do not need a licence.
Licensed breeders must:
- Not mate a bitch less than 12 months old
- Not whelp more than six litters from a bitch.
- Not whelp two litters within a 12 month period from the same bitch.
- Keep accurate records
- 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 law states that all dogs must wear a collar and a tag when in public.
The tag must have your name and address on; your telephone number can be helpful too.
Without a collar it is possible that your dog may be seized and treated as a stray.
You should always keep the contact details on the tag up-to-date.
Certain dogs are exempt from having to wear a collar with a dog tag. They are:
- Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
- Any dog while being used in emergency rescue work.
- Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise or the police.
- Any dog while being used for driving or tending cattle or sheep.
- Any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin.
- Any dog while being used for sporting purposes.
- Any pack of hounds.
Since 2016 it has been compulsory under the law to get your dog microchipped by the time it’s 8 weeks old.
You can be fined up to £500 if your dog is not microchipped.
As well as that you must make sure that your dog is registered on one of the following databases (they all meet government standards):
- Animal Tracker
- MicroChip Central
- National Veterinary Data Service
- Pet Identity UK
- UK PETtrac
Dangerous dog act
Introduced in 1991 and amended in 1997 it made it a criminal offence to allow your dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ either in a public place or on private property e.g. your home.
A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds to reasonably believe that it may injure somebody.
Something as simple as your dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could result in an investigation, so ensure your dog is under control at all times.
If your dog injures somebody, it may be seized and if convicted you could face a lengthy prison sentence and/or a fine. Your dog could also be euthanised (unless you can persuade the Courts that it is not a danger to the public, in which case it may be subject to a control order).
Under the same law it is also a criminal offence if your dog attacks an assistance dog.
If at any point you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour or need advice on training please get in touch with the RSPCA centre or branch where you adopted your dog from.
Dangerous Dog Act - banned dogs
The Dangerous Dog Act also banned four breeds of dogs.
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
Animals Act 1971
Under this act you could be liable for any damage caused by your dog.
The Road Traffic Act 1988
If you are travelling in a vehicle with your dog – they should not be a nuisance or distract the driver in anyway.
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.