Two Dogs

Pet id and the law

Information that needs to go on your tag.

UK Dog Law

Looking after your dog is never as simple as it seems. They need the basics like food, water, a comfortable place to sleep, love and plenty of exercise. But, as a pet owner, you also need to make sure that you're staying on the right side of the law.

Laws aren't a bad thing for pet owners like you. In fact, they're there to protect your beloved four-legged friend.

It's estimated that more than 400,000 dogs are stolen, go missing or end up out on the streets each year. With the help of UK dog laws, you can do your best to make sure that your pet isn't one of them.

- How to protect your dog at home

Responsible dog owners know how to look after their dogs. But it's easy to accidentally make the occasional mistake.

Make sure that you're regularly checking your house for places where your dog might be hurt. Look out for holes in fences, walls and gates that your dog might be able to get through. Always check for exposed wires in the home, and make sure that gates and doors are locked securely.

Locking doors and gates don't just keep your pet in. This is also the best way to keep trespassers out, and protect your pet (and your property) from thieves.

- How to protect your dog outdoors

When you're out and about, make sure that your dog is always in sight. Keep it on a lead where UK law requires it, and make sure that your dog has good recall and comes back when you shout its name.

Remember that you don't know a stranger's dog like you know your own. Even if your dog is safe and friendly, you should avoid letting it approach someone else's unless you and the other owner are in agreement. Other dogs might be scared, or badly trained, and could be at risk of distress or be a risk to your pet.

- Dog laws UK: what you need to know

Government legislation is in place for the protection of people and pets. By keeping to UK laws you keep yourself, your dog and other people safe.

Here are the relevant laws to be followed by UK dog owners:

* Control of Dogs Order (1992)

The Control of Dogs Order makes it a legal requirement to identify yourself as the owner. If a dog is found, it should be easily traced back to you. Most people follow this UK dog law by adding a dog tag to a collar.

Your dog's tag should have, as a minimum, your name and telephone number. Ideally, it will also include your address.

Microchips are another way to record the ownership of your dog. If your pet is lost, vets and charities can scan for chips to help it to find its way home. If your dog is chipped (microchipping is a legal requirement), make sure that you keep the details up to date. Your records are held digitally, so you can make changes to addresses and phone numbers without any extra stress for your pet.

If your dog does not have identification in a public place, in the form of a dog tag that can be quickly and easily read, then it can be seized as a 'stray dog'. You may be fined up to £5,000 to cover the expenses involved.

Learn more about the Control of Dogs Order

* The Environmental Protection Act (1990)

Under Part VIII of the Environmental Protection Act, there's a law about Control of Dogs. This is a wider law, covering more than dog tags and identification.

The Environmental Protection Act states that local authorities need to have an appointed stray dog officer. The officer can decide if a dog is a stray, or has a suitable owner ID.

The Environmental Protection Act gives the appointed officer the power to seize any dog, and the responsibility to contact an owner if one can be found. You'll be told where your dog is being kept, and how much you'll have to pay in order to get your pet back.

If dogs are not claimed within 7 days, they become a dog shelter's responsibility. They can then be re-homed or, in some cases, put down.

It is so important to make sure that your dog's microchip details are up to date, and that they're wearing a suitable dog tag for easy identification.

The Environmental Protection Act also protects you as an owner. If someone else finds your dog, they're legally required to return it to you as the registered owner. If they can't find you, then the dog should be given to the local authorities. After 7 days, the finder can choose to apply to keep the dog.

The Environmental Protection Act

* Microchipping of Dogs Regulations (2015)

Since 2015, it has been a legal requirement for owners to get their dogs microchipped. Before this, microchipping was simply a strong suggestion.

A dog's microchip contains important details about its owner and home, including essential contact details. It may also contain medical details about the dog itself.

Once your dog is chipped, it's your responsibility to keep the details up to date. Details are kept on an international database, which can be accessed online  Anyone with a microchip scanner can get your dog's unique chip number, and use this to find your details.

Most people don't have easy access to a dog's microchip scanner. Though charities and voluntary organisations may be able to help, and dog rescue centres and veterinary surgeries usually have access to scanners, you have more chance of your dog getting back to you quickly with basic information on a dog tag. The microchip offers additional security and space for more specific details.

According to microchipping laws, all dogs over 8 weeks old must be microchipped. It is your legal requirement to keep this chip up to date. If you don't chip your dog, or if your details are out of date, then you may be issued with a fine of up to £500.

Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 

- How to keep your dog safe

The safest dogs are those with two forms of identification. These are pets that have a microchip, in accordance with the law, and also wear a dog tag on their collar.

If your dog escapes or goes missing, a dog tag ensures that anyone who finds it will have immediate access to your details. If the dog is picked up by an officer, or taken to a vet, then the microchip can be scanned for in-depth contact information. You might also like to indicate, on your dog tag, that your pet has been chipped.

Dog tags and microchips are UK legal requirements. Make sure that you're following the law, and protecting your precious pup.