Buying or adopting a dog is an immensely exciting prospect. Dogs are loyal, caring pets that offer companionship and adoration no matter what. Dog ownership, however, is not always simple. Pet owners are responsible for their animals’ wellbeing and the safety of human beings and livestock that come into contact with them. This article is a very brief guide to some of the most important laws that you need to know about getting a dog in the UK. Almost all of the laws in this article are pretty common sense, so most dog owners tend to abide by them if they are considerate and kind.
Your Dog and Livestock
Walking your dog in the countryside is a great way to keep you and your beloved pet fit and happy. The countryside is, however, not a ‘blank space’. 71 Percent of the land in the United Kingdom is farmed. Much of that farmed land contains grazing livestock animals such as sheep, cows and chickens. There are strict laws that UK dog owners need to know regarding dog owners’ responsibilities around livestock.
Dog owners can be fined up to £1000 if their animal ‘worries’ livestock. This can include chasing, scaring or killing farm animals. Farmers are legally permitted to shoot dogs that they see worrying livestock. Keep your dog on a short lead on farms where animals graze!
The Welfare of Your Dog
The United Kingdom has strict animal welfare laws designed to encourage people that own animals to look after them properly. Causing unnecessary suffering to your dog can result in being charged with animal cruelty. This charge can land abusers in prison for 5 years and result in fines of up to £20,000. Pets have the legal right to be kept in an adequate space and fed a healthy diet. Only certain breeds of working dogs can have their tails docked: people found docking puppy tails of non-working dogs can face up to 2 years in prison. The use of dogs for sports such as pit fighting and live fox hunting (among others) is banned – although fox hunting continues to be practiced by some wealthy people that consider themselves to be above the law.
Dogs are required to be microchipped by law. Microchipping ensures that dogs are able to be identified when they have been lost or if they attack another animal. Dogs are also required to wear collars with some form of identification on them when they are taken out in public. Chipping and collaring your dog is a good idea regardless of the law: you don’t want to lose your best friend!
If your dog attacks another person or is otherwise out of control, it may be legally branded as a dangerous dog. Dangerous dogs are legally allowed to be removed from their owners and in some cases can be euthanized. If your dog injures a person, you can face three years in prison. If your dog kills a person, you can be sentenced to 14 years.