Dog owners risk a £5,000 fine or jail time for using a harness instead of a collar on walks

Dog owners who walk their pooch in a harness instead of a collar can face a hefty fine or even jail time.

It is against the law for owners not to attach their dog’s name and address to the collar in public, and anyone who breaks this rule risks severe punishment.

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The law also applies when owners switch from a collar to a harness to protect their dog’s health.

Some puppies, especially small breeds, can suffer from a collar that presses against their windpipe, so wearing a harness may be safer.

However, it is still required that all dogs wear a collar with an identification tag detailing their owner’s details.

A dog must wear a collar with its owner’s name and address (Photo: Adobe)

What are the rules?

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 Act for England and Scotland states that a dog must wear a collar with its owner’s name and address on it.

The tag must contain a zip code, but it is not mandatory to include a phone number.

Owners who fail to comply with the rules are in breach of the Animal Health Act 1981, which used to be subject to a “Level 5” cap fine.

A Level 5 fine was previously capped at £5,000 but was later changed in 2015 to become unlimited.

From 13 March 2015, all criminal sanctions under the Act are now “shall be punishable on summary conviction by a maximum penalty of £5,000 or more, or expressed as a Stage 5 fine, now punishable by a fine of any amount”. to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The change means owners who break the law now face an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison.

However, the fine for violating the rules is likely to be much lower.

In 2018 the owner of a Cocker Spaniel who was found without a collar near Sapcote in the East Midlands was fined £50 with £50 costs and a £30 victim’s surcharge for admitting the offence.

Fines if dogs are not chipped

In addition to ensuring that pets wear a collar, since 2016 it has been a legal requirement for dog owners to microchip their pets.

All dogs over eight weeks must have a chip registered in a DEFRA approved database.

Owners who fail to comply with this requirement can be fined up to £500.

This fine also applies if the owner’s details, including address or phone number, change but are not updated in the database. Dog owners risk a £5,000 fine or jail time for using a harness instead of a collar on walks


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