Pets are more than just animals; they’re friends, companions and members of the family, too. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking that an estimated 300,000 pets go missing, are stolen or become strays every single year in the UK. With over half of the country’s households having a pet at the centre of the family, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your dog from going missing.
Fortunately, the government have recognised how important pets are and have implemented multiple pieces of legislation to help us protect them. Before we move onto discussing dog tag law though, let’s quickly look at what you can do in your own home to help protect your canine friend.
Start with your home itself. Check for holes in walls, fences and gates that your pet could slip through, then patch them up. Similarly, ensure that any gates or doors are secure both to prevent your pet from accidentally leaving, and to keep thieves from breaking in.
When outside the home, ensure that your dog either stays on a lead or stays in your sight so you can effectively supervise. There really is no such thing as too safe when dealing with your dog. Now let’s look at the government legislation in place.
The Control of Dogs Order is a piece of UK dog tag law that makes owner identification (usually via a dog tag) a legal requirement. The legislation states that any dog in a public place must have the name and address of their owner inscribed on a collar, tag or other identification material. Any owner allowing their dog to be in a public place without this information is in breach of the law under the Animal Health Act of 1981.
If a dog is found without identification materials or a dog tag, the law states that it can be seized and treated as a ‘stray dog’. Owners who allow this to happen can be fined up to £5,000 for the expenses involved in seizing and caring for the dog, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind!
Whenever you’re leaving the house, make sure your dog is ready and equipped with your contact details to ensure there’s less risk of him or her getting lost. Find out more The Control of Dogs Order at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/901/article/2/made.
The Environmental Protection Act was not a UK dog tag law; in fact, it was a very wide piece of legislation that encompassed all sorts of different environmental rules and regulations. However, one small section did affect how dogs are controlled in the public and it’s important to highlight this.
The Act details that every local authority must appoint an officer to handle and deal with stray dogs found in the area. This officer’s role is to decide whether any dog found should be classified as a stray dog and if so, seize it. Should a seized dog wear a collar or tag with an owner’s address, then the officer should contact the owner in writing and inform them of where their dog is being kept, how much will need to be paid for the dog to be returned and what will happen if the dog is not claimed within seven days.
Usually, if a dog is not claimed within 7 days, or is seized and has no identification, then it is sold, given to a responsible family, passed to a stray dog centre or put down, depending on the scenario and situation. With that in mind, it’s essential that you make sure your dog has a dog tag and the information is clearly printed upon it.
If a person were to find a stray dog, The Environmental Protection Act states that they must hand the dog back to its owner (if there are contact details available) or take the dog to the local authorities. Should the owner of the dog remain unknown, the finder can opt to keep the dog, though this is at the local authority’s discretion and varies from scenario to scenario.
There are other details within the legislation (which you can find here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/43/part/VIII/crossheading/control-of-dogs) but we have highlighted the key laws relating to dog tags and identification.
Prior to this legislation, microchipping was only a highly advised option as opposed to compulsory. Microchipping a dog is the act of installing a microchip that details the dog’s vital details as well as yours. At a fundamental level, microchips are similar to dog tags but just hold more information and can never be lost.
As of April 2016, when the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations came into effect, all dogs over the age of eight weeks must be microchipped. The only time when this isn’t the case is for specific service dogs, though a vet must issue an exemption certificate to confirm this. Furthermore, under this law owners are required to ensure that microchip details are kept up to date. If owners fail to do this or fail to microchip their dog at all, then you can be faced with a fine of up to £500.
So, along with effective dog tags, the addition of up-to-date microchips is also compulsory by UK law. You can find out more on the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/108/contents/made.
The best way to keep your pet safe is by having them microchipped and attaching a tag to their collar, showing your address, phone number and the word ‘chipped’ to deter thieves. Furthermore, both of these safety precautions are now compulsory by law, so don’t hesitate to implement them.
Pet-Tags’ engraved ID tags are strong, durable and come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning we’ll replace them if the tag fades. Take advantage of our large range and keep your dog as safe as possible.