Tackling irresponsible dog ownership in England

The English government has announced a package of measures to tackle welfare and irresponsible dog ownership.

The aim of the measures is to encourage more responsible behaviour and deal with the consequences that irresponsible dog ownership has on everyone else. The measures include:

Compulsory microchipping

A requirement that all dogs are microchipped with details of the owner by April 2016. Compulsory microchipping will significantly reduce the number of lost and stray animals being kept by local authorities and charities at enormous cost.

Amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act

A change to the criminal law of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to extend the offence of a dog being dangerously out of control to all places, including private property. Extending the law will help give protection to children in their homes and people who have to visit private properties. The ban on owning or selling some types of dogs bred for fighting will remain in place; however the government recognises that any dog can become dangerous and that owners are ultimately responsible for the behaviour of their dogs.

Seizure and kennelling of suspected dangerous dogs

The government has decided that it should no longer be necessary for the police to seize and kennel prohibited dogs pending the outcome of court proceedings. The police will have the discretion to release a suspected prohibited dog where they are satisfied that it is in the care of a responsible owner. President of the British Veterinary Association, Peter Jones said this measure reinforces the message of responsible pet ownership.

“We hope that allowing dogs to stay with their owners during court proceedings will significantly reduce the number of innocent dogs unnecessarily kennelled by the police simply because of the way they look,” he said.

Dangerous dogs index fee

The application fee for prohibited dogs will be increased to reflect the costs involved in administering these dogs.


The English Government considers that education has a significant role to play in reducing the problems associated with irresponsible dog ownership. It has provided funding of £50,000 shared between RSPCA, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and the Dogs Trust for projects to encourage responsible dog ownership in areas where there are high instances of dog-related problems. On announcing the measures, Owen Patterson, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural affairs said: “Overall this is a practical and balanced package of measures which encourages responsible dog ownership and supports local communities.”

Rena Richmond
Media Relations Manager

This story appears in the March 2013 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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