Leads, collars and muzzles
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is a criminal offence for a dog to be on a designated road (ie. a public road) without being held on a lead. There are exceptions for dogs proved to be kept for driving or tending sheep or cattle in the course of a trade or business; and dogs proved to have been at the material time in use under proper control for sporting purposes.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires every dog (subject to a few exceptions) while on a public highway or in a public place to wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on it or a plate or badge attached to it. The exceptions include:
- packs of hounds;
- dogs used for sporting purposes;
- dogs being used for the capture or destruction of vermin;
- dogs being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep;
- dogs being used on official duties by a member of the Armed Forces or Customs and Excise or a police force;
- dogs being used in emergency rescue work, and;
- dogs registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
If you do not comply with the legal requirements for a collar, you can be prosecuted and fined under the Animal Health Act 1981. Furthermore, if your dog does not have a collar on a highway or in a public place, it can be treated as a stray dog and seized by the Local Authority.
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 it is a criminal offence to allow a pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa or any dog designated by the Secretary of State as being a dog bred for fighting, to be in a public place without being muzzled and kept on a lead by someone who is 16 years old or above. Where an offence is committed the offender may be imprisoned and/or fined. The Court may also order the destruction of the dog and may order the offender to be disqualified from having custody of a dog, for such period as the Court thinks fit.
A dog owner has a responsibility to ensure that the dog is well behaved wherever it is, having been a dog owner for many years the key word is that the owner is responsible for the animal. But owners are not always responsible people and if this is the case they need to be taken to task by the authorities.