Dogs ownership and the law

There are a number of UK laws that have an impact on dog ownership.

There is a brief overview of the the ones that have the most impact as well as a link to the relevant act/regulation in full (where available). This is not an exhaustive list, but they are laws that you as a dog owner should know about.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992

It is a requirement of this law that all dogs on the highway on in a public place wear a collar and have an identity tag or plate which shows the owner’s name and address.
Note: having you name and telephone number is no enough, even if your dog has been microchipped or tattooed.

This order gives the local authority powers to treat any dog without the correct ID as a stray. (Note does not empower the police)

For further details see The Control of Dogs Order 1992

The Road Traffic Act 1988

Section 27 of the Road Traffic Act 1998 states that:
“A person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence. It also states, in this section, “designated road” means a length of road specified by an order in that behalf of the local authority in whose area the length of road is situated
For further details see The Road Traffic Act 1998

The Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992

These Regulations implement certain provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 with regard to stray dogs.

The Regulations state that the local authority must appoint an officer for dealing with stray dogs found in the authority’s area. An owner wishing to reclaim a dog which has strayed, can only do so if he or she pays the authority’s expenses incurred by detaining the dog, together with a fine. The fine amount is currently set at £25.

The Regulations also oblige the officer to keep a register of dogs seized by him or her, and the details that are to be entered in the register. The register must be available for public inspection. The Regulations also describe the procedure to be followed by the officer where a dog is found by a member of the public who wishes to keep it.

The Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

This act applies to all dogs, not just “fighting dogs”* and owners should be aware of its contents. The act applies to any dog deemed to be dangerously out of control in a public place. The penalty for having such a dog is either destruction of the dog or the owner may be disqualified from owning a dog for any time the court sees fit.

For further information see Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

*Under the terms of the act a “fighting dog” is described as one of the following:-

  1. Pit Bull Terrier (also crossbred pit bulls)
  2. Japanese Tosa
  3. “Any dog of any type designated for the purposes of this section by an order of the Secretary of State, being a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose.”

Fighting Breed Specific Legislation

The 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced following a series of high-profile attacks on children. Targeting a breed or type is dangerous as it lulls people with dogs who are not of a banned breed type into a false sense of security. No breed of dog is any more or less likely to bite than any other; the circumstances surrounding the incident, the background of the dog and the environment in which an incident occurs which is far more important in determining the outcome. Read more about this topic.

Specialist advice on dog law

This website (link below) is provided by Cooper & Co Solicitors which is run by Trevor Cooper. Trevor has been qualified as a Solicitor for 23 years and has wide ranging expertise on the law relating to dogs. Some general information is provided on this website but every case should be determined on its own individual merits, so we urge you to seek specific advice on your particular dog-related legal problem.