Dog owners risk huge £5,000 fine and jail for breaking strict collar rule

Dogs who are caught without wearing proper identification could land their owners with a eye-watering £5,000 fine.

That’s because failing to put an identity tag on your dog when out in public is illegal, and in the worst case scenario, could send you to jail.

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

For some smaller breeds, such as Yorkshire terriers, using a collar and lead can press on their windpipes and cause damage, which is why owners choose to use a harness instead.

But pet parents must ensure their dog is still identifiable, or risk spending six months behind bars.

Owners who breach this law are considered guilty of an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981 which is “punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale”.

A level 5 fine was previously capped at a maximum of £5,000 – but this changed in March 2015.

A spokesperson for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said: “For crimes committed after 13 March 2015, level 5 has been done away with and all criminal penalties expressed as being punishable on summary conviction by a maximum fine of £5,000 or more, or expressed as being a level 5 fine, are now punishable by a fine of any amount (i.e. unlimited).

“That’s as a result of section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

“Therefore, the maximum penalty on summary conviction will be up to six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.”

While it is possible to receive a £5,000 fine, many charges handed out are likely to be much lower.

In 2018, a cocker spaniel who was picked up without a collar on near Sapcote, East Midlands, earned their owner a fine of £50, with £50 costs and a £30 victim surcharge for admitting the offence.

Owners should also be aware that their postcode must be included on their dog’s ID collar or tag, but it is not legally obliged to include your phone number.