UK Dog Laws & Legal Acts
‘ello, ‘ello ‘ello, what’s all this ‘ere then?
In every walk of life we’re all in some way affected by the law and walking your dog is no different. We don’t want to see your dog’s collar felt by the long paw of the law (nor ours for that matter) so that’s why we keep bang up to date with current legislation.
So why do we need to know about dog laws?
Well first, as a responsible dog owner, YOU need to know about dog laws and your rights and responsibilities - so that you can protect not only yourself, but also your dog, as well as other dogs and the public and their property.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world and every year we hear about countless incidents where dogs have been injured in fights with other dogs, where they’ve injured another person or damaged their property, or because they’ve caused an accident which has resulted in injury or loss. Without a proper understanding of the law, and more importantly adequate insurance cover, many dog owners have faced legal bills rising into the thousands of pounds.
Because of this we’re constantly being asked about the rules, regulations laws and bye-laws relating to dog walking and the services we provide, so to simplify things we thought we’d try and clarify some of the more important ones, specifically relating to both dog walking and home boarding.
So what are the laws relating to walking your dog?
The Kennel Club’s website includes a useful information guide called “Do you know dog law?” and also lists numerous rules and regulations by which dog owners and dog walkers must abide - some of the most ones important include:
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
Enables local authorities to implement restrictions, known as dog control orders and you can be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to pick up faeces, fail to keep a dog on a lead or put it on the lead when directed to do so, or allow a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992
States that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner engraved or written upon it, or alternatively on a tag. Your telephone number is optional but advisable. You can be fined up to £5,000 if your dog does not wear an identification tag.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
It is a criminal offence to allow a dog to be “dangerously out of control” in a public place, a place it is not permitted to be and some other areas. This does not mean that your dog is classed as a dangerous breed but can be something as simple as your dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child. This could lead to complaints or even litigation, so you must make sure your dog is under control at all times. If your dog injures a person, it may be seized or even destroyed by the police and your penalty may even include a prison sentence!
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 - so check the signs! 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. If your dog is found to have been the cause of a road traffic accident you may be liable to prosecution under the Animals Act 1971.
Animals Act 1971
You could be liable for damage or injury caused by your dog under this Act and if found guilty you could be ordered to pay thousands of pounds of compensation. 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.
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
It is against the law to allow a dog to worry livestock on farmland. If a farmer catches a dog worrying his livestock, he has the right to stop the dog – even if that means shooting it.
Dogs Act 1871
It is an offence if a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control, which is usually regarded as not on a lead or not muzzled. The law applies wherever an incident happens.
You can download a copy of The Kennel Club information guide “Do you know dog law?” in (PDF format) here.
What about the laws relating to Dog Walkers?
We’ll, with the exception of the above, there are surprisingly few regulations specifically aimed at dog walkers, although businesses providing such a service must have suitable and adequate public liability insurance.
Unfortunately, some people see dog walking as a flexible means of earning a bit of extra cash but it actually requires more than just a sturdy pair of shoes and handing out a few leaflets.
Looking after other people’s pets carries a high level of responsibility and dog walking is now generally regarded as a professional industry, so a responsible and professional dog walker will usually be a member of a professional pet care body.
They should also be able to exhibit some form of professional qualification, skill or experience and they must be insured. Insurance must also extend to cover clients’ loss if they are also expected to be a key holder which is in itself a separate issue covered by numerous rules and regulations including how the keys are kept.
Many dog walkers also opt to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check to confirm their integrity and must be licensed by the local authority if they offer boarding.
A good dog walker will be qualified in pet first aid and have undergone some form of training to enable them to cope with situations involving dog aggression, attacks or injury. They should offer a consultation to gain information about your dog before they can be walked safely, and they should also ask you to sign a contract of care and relevant veterinary release forms so that your dog can be treated by a vet in case of emergency.
Home boarding is covered by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963and anyone boarding animals (even at home) needs to be licensed by their local authority. Before granting a licence an officer or veterinary surgeon appointed by the local authority will inspect the premises to ensure that they comply with the legal requirements of the act.
The boarding establishment must be covered by adequate and suitable public liability insurance and, were necessary, adequate and suitable employer’s liability insurance. They must also be registered with a veterinary practice that can offer 24-hour help and advice.
Proof must be provided that dogs boarded, or resident dogs, have current vaccinations against Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Canine Parvovirus and any other relevant diseases. The course of vaccination must be completed at least 4 weeks before the first date of boarding or in accordance with veterinary and or manufacturers instructions.
Whilst boarding, dogs must live in the home as family pets. There must be no external construction of buildings, cages or runs. There must be adequate space, light, heat and ventilation for the number of dogs licensed at the home at any one time.
Only dogs from the same household may be boarded at any one time and dogs must not be boarded with any cat, unless they normally live together in the same household.
Entire males and any bitches which are in season or due to be in season during the boarding must not be boarded together or boarded with resident dogs.
No dog registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 must be accepted for home boarding.
Puppies under 6 months must not be boarded with other dogs including resident dogs.
So there you have it, a simple clarification of the rules and regulations relating to dog law.
Generally speaking, the responsibility for your dog lies with you the owner, so unless you employ a professional dog walker, or home boarder, who is covered by suitable and adequate public liability insurance it is not the dog walker or home boarder, but YOU who run the risk of being faced with bills running into thousands of pounds should anything untoward happen.