In recent years, the animal welfare laws in the UK have been strengthened and so it’s important for pet owners to make sure they know what the law says they can and can’t do. With that in mind, we’re going to be taking a look at recent changes to the laws around dog ownership so you can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re doing the right thing.
What are the current rules on dog ownership?
As it stands, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, there are a set of standards all domestic animal owners are obliged to meet. They must be kept in a suitable environment, have their dietary needs looked after, and care must be given to their mental and physical needs.
For most dog owners these are your relatively common-sense requirements. If a dog isn’t eating well or seems to be in poor health, the owner should take actions to remedy this situation, by either contacting a vet or making relevant changes to the dog’s living circumstances. If you’re worried about your dog escaping, then dog-proof your garden, and consider purchasing a GPS dog tracker.
Owners who break this law should know that they could not only be facing a potential prison sentence but could also be liable for a fine of up to £20,000.
One thing important to mention here is that animal welfare in the UK is a devolved issue. In practice, that means that the individual governments of the UK (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England), make their own laws and rulings on a number of new issues.
For example, in Wales, it is illegal to use an electric shock collar, but it is not illegal to use one in England. The English government have previously stated their intention to ban electric shock collars, but as of 2022, they remain legal.
How has the law changed?
Last year, the government introduced a series of new policies, under the title ‘Action Plan for Animal Welfare’.
The Action Plan introduced into law a number of reforms to animal welfare for everyone from farmers, to zoos, to everyday pet owners. It brought in mandatory microchipping for cats (start date to be confirmed), banned the sale of ivory, and officially recognised all animals as having sentience.
That’s all well and good, but what does the action plan mean for dog owners?
In practice, assuming you’re already complying with the law, then the action plan shouldn’t affect the way you look after your dog. The most significant legislation in the plan relating to dogs is a crack-down on pet abduction.
It was reported that there were more than 1,800 dog abductions in 2021 which was a 25% increase on 2020 and so the action plan means pet abduction has now been made a criminal offence. In practice, this means the police have been given more power to pursue pet thieves so dog-owners in particular, can rest a little easier.
What can you do to keep your dog happy and healthy?
If you are worried about your dog’s welfare and want to make sure you’re treating them as best you can, then there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you’re doing what’s right.
First of all, if you haven’t already, make sure your dog is microchipped. Not only is this a legal requirement, but it’s also very important to make sure that if your dog does get lost–or even stolen–you’ll have a much easier time tracking it down.
As well as microchipping, you should also consider buying a Safer Pet GPS dog tracker. The tracker is small, lightweight, and attaches easily to your dog’s collar. By having a dog tracker, you won’t just have to wait for your dog to be found and handed in, you’ll be able to go straight to them, and avoid any unnecessary stress both for you and the dog.
Finally, the most important thing you can do is respond to your dog’s needs. If they’re not eating properly, or gaining/losing a lot of weight, then look into new dietary options. If they seem overly energetic then consider changes to your walking schedule.