The Law

Every dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it. Exceptions being hunting hound packs or whilst dogs are being used for sporting purposes, capture of vermin, herding or rescue work. Also, dogs for the registered blind or used by the armed forces, Customs and Excise or the police are exempt. Dogs not meeting these criteria can be seized and treated as a stray by your local authority under the Environment Protection Act. Once at the local authority pound the dog has just 7 days. If it is not claimed in that time, or found a rescue space, it will be put to sleep. Make sure your dog wears a tag and its details are kept up to date.

Microchip your dog.

Micro-chipping is quick and easy and all dogs are required by law to be micro-chipped. Your vet can do it for you and other animal welfare groups are also providing this facility. Micro-chipping is the most secure way of permanently identifying your pet. A unique identification number is registered to the animal and the owner’s details are placed on a national database. If your dog gets lost and slips his collar with his tag, then anywhere with a scanner will be able to see if he has a microchip when found. All vets will have a scanner, along with the Local Authority Dog Warden. Again, make sure your details are kept up to date or the microchip will be useless.

If you find a lost dog.

Legally, you must report the found dog to the Local Authority Dog Warden (you can also report them to the Police if in Scotland). Details can usually be found online, either on your local Council’s website (they are usually part of the Environmental Health Department) or there is a complete list here.
If you do not report the dog to the Dog Warden, he will never legally belong to the finder (or anyone else if passed on). He must serve the statutory 7 days in the pound before being allowed to be re-homed. Only after that time can legal ownership be passed on. FPARSW can not take in dogs who have been found as strays.

If you lose your dog.

In the first instance, contact the Dog Warden – details above, who have legal responsibility for stray dogs. In Scotland you can also try the Police as they still accept stray dogs. Contact local vets in case your dog has been involved in an accident and has been taken in for treatment. Some people will also have taken a dog to the vets to be scanned for a microchip. Contact Petlog or your micro-chipping database. Contact local kennels and re-homing centres. Visit the normal places you would take your dog for a walk in case he has gone there. There are several Lost Dog websites on the internet, such as DogLost.