For the majority of people, the idea of getting a pet comes with happiness and joy. However, many don’t tend to consider the necessary legal requirements. For instance, not everyone will know that, as the Control of Dogs Order mandates, all engraved pet ID tags must include the owner’s name and address, or that you are now legally required to have your dog microchipped. Dog owners can risk a fine of up to £500 if their dog is not microchipped, and up to a hefty £5,000 if their dog does not wear suitable ID.
However, if you’re planning to get a pet and don’t know these laws, it might be time to find out what they are and brush up on all the legal requirements. Don’t panic – we are here to help.
What are the Laws?
- First of all, anyone buying a pet must be over the age of 16 years old. Adults will be legally responsible for any pet in the household and must be named on their dog’s ID tags as per UK law
- All pet owners must follow the Animal Welfare Act which states that owners should meet their pet’s needs, give them enough food and water, house them properly and protect them from any pain, suffering, injury and disease
- As of April 2016, pet laws in the UK require all dogs to be microchipped, in addition to wearing a collar and a tag as stated by dog collar laws
- Dog owners must clean up after their dogs in all public places and can be fined between £50 to £80 if they fail to do so
- Animals should not be left alone in vehicles and when travelling in the car they should be provided with plenty of ventilation
- Dogs must be kept on a lead when around livestock, in designated pedestrian zones or wherever signs indicate as per dog walking laws
- Anyone who breeds five or more litters a year must be licensed and anyone breeding for sale purposes should also have a valid license
- Licensed breeders should avoid breeding until the dog is over one year old and cannot use the same dog to bear more than six litters. They must keep accurate records and cannot legally sell a puppy before it is eight weeks old
- All dogs must wear identification that states the owner’s name, address and preferably the phone number. This can be on the collar or on an engraved pet ID tag and is a legal requirement for dogs in public places
- In order for pets to be allowed back into the UK after travelling abroad to Europe (check requirements for other countries), pets must be microchipped, have had a rabies vaccination no less than 21 days and no more than 3 years before returning to the UK, and have had a vet administer worming medication no less than 24 hours and no longer than 5 days before returning to the UK. Proof of all three requirements needs to be recorded in the pet’s passport which the vet will provide for a fee. Of course, when taking your pet abroad, it is important that their microchip records are up-to-date and that their ID tag has the correct information according to dog tag law in the UK. A Bow Wow Meow Smart Tag provides extra protection when travelling overseas
In each country, there are different laws that have been put in place to protect our pets. Of course, all of these laws and legalities are enforced for good reason, so it’s important that we adhere to them.
Being a responsible pet owner isn’t just about taking care of your pet’s needs but ensuring you consider the people around you when out and about with your dog. Your dog should be trained to react calmly when approached by strangers and you are expected to have control of your dog at all times. If your dog doesn’t always respond to a return or stop command, then you are safer keeping them on the lead. Remember to take note of dog-free areas and proposed laws, as these are constantly updating.
There are numerous public spaces in the UK which are covered by Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) where you may be required to:
- Keep your dog on a lead or put your dog on a lead if advised by a police officer, police support officer or council member
- Prevent your dog from accessing certain areas of the space
- Limit the number of dogs you have with you
On any land you have access to, private or public, you are expected to clean up after your dog. Owners can face on-the-spot fines of up to £100 for ignoring a PSPO and can lead to court time and fines of up to £1000 should they refuse to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice.
If you’re thinking of getting a pet, make sure that you’re fully clued up and aware of all the applicable laws beforehand including all updates made to the microchipping and dog tag law in 2016. You can find further information on engraved dog ID tags here.