Why do we need to know about dog laws?
In a dog-eat-dog world and as a responsible dog owner, you need to know about your rights and responsibilities in association with the law, in order to protect your dog, yourself and other people.
Often there can be a lot of misunderstanding around ‘dangerous dog breeds’ and it is up to you as an owner to know and respect the law but also to train, love and care for your dog responsibly.
It is also important to know and understand the law so that you can be aware of what is going on around you and to report something that you think might be illegal. Remember that animal calls are handled by the Norfolk Police Division 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Taking a look at the dog laws across the globe
Depending on where in the world you call home, there are great variations in dog laws – a fact which can be both entertaining and amusing to research. However, it can also be upsetting as many other countries do not take animal welfare into consideration.
You may want to take your dog abroad at some stage – whether that be for a holiday, a long stay visiting family or a permanent move – and in this case you need to know the UK rules and regulations that allow you to bring your dog in and out of the country and also what laws will affect you and your dog when you are abroad.
We are lucky as dog owners that the UK is considered to be one of the most dog-friendly countries in the world, where dogs are allowed in most places including pubs and beaches and even on the London Underground free of charge.
If you are thinking about taking a trip abroad with your dog, note down some of the other countries where your dog will be welcomed:
1. France – so many people here are dog owners that dogs are part of the French way of life – they are welcomed in most cafes.
2. Australia – there is so much outdoor space for dogs to explore and as in the UK, dogs are allowed on public transport. The Aussies take protecting their dogs very seriously, as Johnny Depp found out when he smuggled his dogs into the country and broke the law.
3. Austria – a leading country in stopping animal cruelty and banning the sale of dogs in pet shops with strict laws.
4. Hungry – this is a country which loves their dogs – there are even laws for making sure your dog is exercised a certain number of times each day!
5. The Netherlands – a nation of animal lovers – there are laws here to prevent people with criminal records owning dogs and you can get a break on health insurance if you are vegetarian.
6. Switzerland – leading the way with helpful dog laws, the Swiss make sure they teach dog owners to care for their dogs with a test that they have to pass on first buying their dog, in addition to a practical course. Swiss Airlines allow dogs in some cabins. All owners need to have pet health insurance by law. Restaurants not only welcome dogs, but they will provide dog food on the menu!
A wide range of dog laws
It can be hugely entertaining as a dog lover to take a look at the different dog laws around the world. Check out these hilarious US dog laws:-
• It’s against the law for dogs and cats to fight in North Carolina.
• Dogs may not bark after 6pm in Arkansas.
• People that make ugly faces at dogs may be jailed in Oklahoma.
• French poodles are banned from the Opera in Chicago!
These dog laws, however, are hard for us to comprehend:-
• China has a one dog policy and a dog height restriction.
• Germany has a monthly pet tax and small dogs are on a cheaper rate (the same rate as pet rats!)
• The Middle East is not dog-friendly in general. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal to walk your dog in public and only guard, service or hunting dogs are allowed.
So what are the laws relating to your dog ownership in the UK?
In the UK, dog law covers many areas:-
• Animal welfare
• Dog identification
• Nuisance and dangerous dogs
• Travelling with your dog
UK laws to be aware of include:-
Public Spaces Protection Order made under section 59 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
Norfolk councils can issue you with a fine of up to £1,000 for dog fouling.
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
It is against the law for your dog to bother livestock – farmers have the law on their side to shoot your dog!
The Control of Dogs Order 1992
You can be fined up to £5,000 if your dog does not wear an identification collar.
Dogs Act 1871
If your dog is considered dangerous it has to be kept on a lead or muzzled.
The Road Traffic Act 1988
It is against the law to have your dog off a lead on a road, and some public areas (check with your local authority).
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
It is against the law for a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place. If your dog injures another person, it can be seized by police and you can end up in jail.
Animals Act 1971
If your dog causes a road accident or causes damage or injury to anyone you can be liable to pay thousands of pounds in compensation.
We are very lucky in the UK that we are famously a nation of animal lovers and the laws in place to protect our animals reflect that. When researching laws across the world you can see how far behind the UK some other countries are with a lack of animal welfare laws, or the existence of laws which are simply cruel to animals.
We have so much freedom as dog owners in the UK to take our dogs on public transport and in public spaces, however we must be mindful to keep up to date with all the dog laws which could impact us and our pets.