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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

Responsibilities of a dog owner

Animal welfare

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 you are responsible for your dog to ensure they get the best out of life. They should be given a suitable environment, a suitable diet, be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, be able to socialise with their own breed and be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease in relation to the size, breed and age. The RSPCA can give you additional guidance.

Ensure your dog carries identification

By law, a dog should wear a tag inscribed with the owner's name and address. You should also include an up to date mobile phone number. This is so that if your dog goes missing, the finder will be able to contact you. It is compulsory for all dogs to have a microchip fitted with their owner's details. Owners must ensure their details are up to date with the microchipping company, it is an offence not to do so under the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015.

Dogs under eight weeks old are exempt from the microchipping law. Dogs can also be exempt through a certificate issued by a registered vet. If you are buying a puppy, the breeder should have microchipped it and added their details, the breeder should then provide you with the information needed to change the chip to your details.

If your pet has a microchip and goes missing, the scanners held by the:

  • police
  • dog wardens
  • vets

help identify your pet's unique chip number to re-unite you with your dog.

Even if your dog is microchipped, it must wear a tag in a public place to be legal.

Clear up after your dog

Everyone knows of the potential for dog faeces to carry disease as well as unpleasant odour when caught on shoes or wheels of wheelchairs, prams, bikes or scooters. It is an offence not to clear up after dogs and offenders are likely to receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). There are a few exceptions but, in general terms, any open land that the public has access to, whether by payment or not, is covered by this legislation, unless you have the direct permission of the land owner.

Dog waste can be 'bagged and binned' in any litter or dog bin, or taken home and deposited in your waste bin. Follow the ‘doggy doo’ code

Keep your dog under control when on and off a lead

The person responsible for the dog should be able to ensure that the dog will return to heel when requested, having good recall, and will respond to simple commands. That person should also be able to hold or restrain the dog should the need arise. Dogs should be under the control of a suitable person at all times.

Prevent your dog from straying

Please ensure that your home and garden are secure against escape. Neutering may also curb your dog's urge to stray.

Do not leave your dog in a hot car

Even an open window may not be enough to be sure a dog will not over heat. It may be better to leave dogs at home where they have the comfort of shade and available drinking water. See RSPCA Dog Advice & Welfarefor more information on your obligation to your dog.  If you are concerned about a dog left in a car on a hot day please dial 999.

Make sure your dog doesn't bark excessively

We all recognise that dogs bark, however, excessive dog barking is both stressful to the dog and upsetting to those listening to it. If you believe that you have a problem or have been advised that your dog barks excessively then consider what action you can take to resolve the problem. It may be that your dog is bored or anxious when left alone. A low volume radio left on can help to settle your dog but you may want to think about training your dog or speaking to a dog warden for advice.

Comply with Public Spaces Protection Orders

There is a dog-related Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for West DorsetWeymouth and PortlandNorth Dorset and East DorsetThe Weymouth and Portland Order was extended on 5 February 2019 for a further 12 months expiring on 1 June 2020.

An extension was agreed by members on 10 December 2019 to enable the current Orders, that are likely to expire in 2020, to remain in place while a three month public consultation is held to provide opinion on a single Dorset Council Dog related PSPO. It is envisaged that this will be in place by Autumn 2020.

Purbeck byelaws

Dogs on Beach and Dogs on Leads at Swanage Byelaw,  Dogs on Beach and Dogs on Leads at Studland Byelaw, The Purbeck District Council (Dogs – Designation of Land in Purbeck) Order 2003 are byelaws. Byelaws remain in force until part or all of the land designated in that byelaw is subject to a related PSPO. The agreement to extend any of these Orders has no legal affect on their validity while the current consultation is being undertaken, and will only be superseded by any new Order if the same land is identified.

Information signs are provided in these areas to show where the areas of concern are and the nature of the offence associated with it. If you are going to visit other areas, please ensure you check with the Local Authority for that area if any restrictions apply. There also remains some byelaws and local land owner restrictions.

An Equality Impact Assessment was carried out for the former councils of North Dorset, West Dorset, and Weymouth and Portland to assess the impact of these Orders on assistance dog users/owners. The principles of the Equality Impact Assessment apply across Dorset Council and will be reviewed in light of the new Order once in place.

Dogs on Leads by Direction

Some of the current PSPOs have a dogs on leads by direction element.  We would respectfully ask that if you are requested to put your dog on a lead you do so. The reason an authorised officer will request this might be that they wish to speak to you, or your dog may be causing undue distress to people or dogs in the immediate area. Where the Order exists a fine may be issued for failing to do so.

Further advice

The Dog Warden is happy to speak to members of the public on all dog related issues. If you have queries please contact the Dog Warden Service in your area.

Contact the Dog Warden Service in North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, and Weymouth and Portland

Register on our online portal to contact the Dog Warden Service

Contact the Dog Warden Service in East Dorset

Complete a short online form to contact the Dog Warden Service

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