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A dog owner's guide to understanding dog law

Posted by Tony Bithell on 8th May 2013

If you own a dog, you need to be aware of the various dog laws. This is a basic guide to the vast amount of complex laws in relation to owning a dog. For detailed information about a specific dog law, contact a specialist solicitor. [This guide is intended for information only]

Welfare Protection for Dogs

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a duty of care on the person responsible for a dog, whether it be a permanent or temporary basis.

It is an offence to:

  • dock a dog’s tail (s.6) unless for medical reasons
  • mutilate or allow another person to carry out a prohibited procedure on your dog

Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act stipulates that a person has a duty of care. A dog owner has the responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the dog are being met. These needs include:

  • a suitable environment
  • a suitable diet
  • the ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

It is an offence to ignore the above needs, and in doing so, Section 10 of the Act stipulates the need for an inspection and an improvements notice.


If you are found guilty of an offence committed under the Animal Welfare Act, you may be:

  • fined
  • sent to prison
  • disqualified from keeping animals

…or, your animal may be removed from you!

Penalties can include fines of up to £20,000 and/or up to 51 weeks in prison.

Enforcement Organisations

RSPCA official charity logo

RSPCA official charity logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many organisations who protect the welfare of dogs and animals. These include:

  • Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs)
  • RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
  • Police
  • Local Authorities

For further information on the Animal Welfare Act 2006, click here.

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