Dog owners using harness without tag instead of collars could get huge £5k fine

Dog owners who use a harness on their pets without an identity tag while on walks could be breaking a law that comes with a hefty £5,000 fine.

The reason for this is that pooches are required to have name tags that clearly identify the owner's name and address in case the pet goes missing, reports TeamDogs.

Sometimes wearing a harness instead of a collar means the pets don't always have tags.

But for many breeds, having a collar could do more harm than good. For smaller breeds like Yorkshire terriers, using a collar and lead can press on their windpipes, which would make the pups uncomfortable and may cause health problems.

To avoid this, owners opt for using a harness. However, when doing so they need to remember to have proper identification on their dog. Offenders to this law could be slapped with a massive fine and may even have to spend six months in jail in a worst-case scenario.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 law for Scotland and England states that a dog must wear a collar with the owner's name and address on it.

People who breach this are considered guilty of an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981 which is "punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale".

A level 5 fine was previously capped at a maximum of £5000 – but this changed in March 2015.

A spokesperson for DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) told TeamDogs: “For crimes committed after 13 March 2015, level 5 has been done away with and all criminal penalties expressed as being punishable on summary conviction by a maximum fine of £5,000 or more, or expressed as being a level 5 fine, are now punishable by a fine of any amount (i.e. unlimited).

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"That’s as a result of section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

“Therefore, the maximum penalty on summary conviction will be up to six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.”

However, the fine actually handed out are likely to be a lot lower.

In 2018, a Cocker spaniel who was picked up without a collar on near Sapcote, East Midlands, earned their owner a fine of £50, with £50 costs and a £30 victim surcharge for admitting the offence.

Owners should be aware that their postcode must also be included on their dog’s ID collar or tag, but the law does not obligate you to include your phone number.

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