Domestic animals

Call RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 to report cruelty or an animal in distress. The call will cost the same as any call to a UK landline number.

In an emergency call 999 if the cruelty is taking place.

Contact your local council dog warden for dog fouling or lost/stray dogs.

Dog microchipping

A microchip makes it much easier to reunite a dog with its owner.

It is compulsory for all dogs in England to be fitted with a microchip.

"This will help tackle the growing problem of stray dogs, and will help to reunite owners with lost or stolen pets more quickly. It will relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership.

We do not expect local authorities or the police to check whether responsibly-owned dogs are microchipped. However if a dog without a microchip comes to the attention of the authorities, its owner will be required to have it chipped, or face a £500 fine."

Dangerous dogs

It’s now against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, including in the owner’s home.

The law applies to all dogs. 

In the UK, it’s against the law to own certain types of dog. These are the:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

For more information visit Some types of dogs are banned.

Out of control

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • injures someone
  • makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:

  • it injures someone’s animal
  • the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

Be aware: Devon and Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly has extensive farmland which often have public access in the form of footpaths. A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s worrying their livestock.

How is your dog at risk if it chases a sheep?

  1. If you dog is chasing sheep it is no longer in your control - this puts it at risk as it may then go on to run into a road or get lost.
  2. If your dog is chasing sheep it could get damaged from over running, over excitement, butted or kicked by a sheep or other farm animal
  3. If your dog is chasing sheep it can legally be SHOT.  SheepWatch know of 49 dogs shot in 2016 for chasing sheep.

Source: Sheep Watch


You can be fined up to £5,000 and/or sent to prison for up to 6 months if your dog is out of control. You may also not be allowed to own a dog in the future. If you let your dog injure someone, you can be sent to prison for up to 2 years and/or fined. If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison.

Dog fouling

The local council is responsible for keeping public areas like parks, playgrounds and pavements clear of dog mess. Please see our ‘Can they help’ page for details of who to call.

Reporting a stray dog

If you find a stray dog and can’t contact the owner, you can report it to the council. Please see our ‘Can they help’ page for details of who to call.

You can also report lost or found animals on the below websites:

Keeping a stray dog

You can keep a stray dog in your home while you try to contact the owner or your local council.

You might be able to adopt the dog if its original owner isn’t traced or they don’t claim the dog within 7 days. Tell your council if you want to adopt the dog - they’ll probably check if you’re suitable as a dog owner before you can adopt it.

Even if you adopt the dog, the legal ownership of the dog is never transferred to you.

This means that the original owner could claim their dog back at any time, even if you’ve had the dog for several months or years.

Excessive barking

If you are concerned about a dog barking excessively in your neighbourhood you should contact your local dog warden who is employed by the local council. Please see our ‘Can they help’ page for details of who to call.


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