Dog owners could face an unlimited fine or even jail time for using a harness instead of a collar while walking their pets

Dog owners could face an unlimited fine or even jail time if their pet does not wear a collar and ID tag while out for a walk.

This applies even if owners switch from a collar to a harness for their dog’s health.


Dog owners are legally required to keep their pet’s collar and tag, even when walking with a harness instead.Credit: Getty

It is illegal not to have your name and address on your dog’s tag in public.

The label must include a postal code, but phone numbers are not required.

Many owners opt for harnesses instead of collars, due to the health concerns associated with collars and leashes.

Especially small dogs, such as corgis, may suffer from a collar pressing against their windpipe.

Therefore, the harness is more secure but nevertheless dogs are required to wear their collars with an additional tag.

It may come as a shock, but it’s nothing new. The Dog Control Act 1992 for Scotland and England requires a collar with the owner’s name and address.

Failing this, the owners are breaking a violation of the Animal Health Act 1981, which was once punishable by a fine capped at ‘level 5’ (£ 5,000) but is now potentially unlimited.

But level 5 was removed in 2015. Thus, all criminal penalties expressed as punishable on summary conviction with a maximum fine of £ 5,000 or more, or expressed as a level 5 fine, are now liable to a fine of any amount.

As a result, homeowners who break the law could face up to six months in jail and / or an unlimited fine.

However, the fines are often much smaller.

In 2018, a Cocker Spaniel owner was fined £ 50, with costs of £ 50 and a victim fine surcharge of £ 30 for admitting the infringement.

Since 2016, dog owners have also been required to chip their dogs. All dogs over 8 weeks old need a chip registered in a DEFRA approved database.

Failure to do so may result in a fine of £ 500. The fine also applies if the owner’s contact details, such as address or phone number, change but are not updated in the database.

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