Dog harness fine: Charity's advice to South Yorkshire dog owners over warning of £5k fine for harness users

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A rescue charity is advising dog owners that both a collar and harness are the best way to go following warnings of a £5k fine for untagged pooches.

A national law over how to walk your dog came into focus last week when warnings that pet owners who leave their dogs’ collars at home in favour of a harness could face strict fines if their pooch leaves the house without a proper tag.

The strict punishment under the Control of Dogs Act 1992 could be enforced for failing to put your name and address on your dog’s tag when out in public.

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Dog owners risk £5k fine or jail for using harness instead of collar on walks
A dog must wear a collar with its owner’s name and address on it (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images).A dog must wear a collar with its owner’s name and address on it (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images).
A dog must wear a collar with its owner’s name and address on it (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images).

Now, a Rotherham rescue charity is advising that a collar and harness is the way to go – for the health of the animal and the welfare of the owner.

Gemma Ibbotson, trainer and behaviourist for Rain Rescue in Rotherham, said: “Dog owners need to be sensible. It’s down to owners to do their part.

“Even if you think you can just put the tag on the harness, the challenge is a dog is much more likely to get out of it, and if they do and they’re also not wearing a collar then they have no tag on them.

“Even if you use a harness, if doesn’t hurt to clip on a collar.

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“Some dogs, even the ones we rescue, have skin and fur conditions and don’t agree with wearing a collar, but it won’t hurt to clip a collar on for a 20-minute walk.”

In the past week, some owners have argued that mandatory chipping for dogs has done away with the need for collars.

Others have expressed a modern anxiety of putting a dog’s name, address and optionally a phone number on a tag, despite this being a legal requirement for over 20 years.

Gemma said: “I can see how tags can be a bit outdated, but if I find a dog with a collar I can do something then and there, where if they don’t I need to get to a vets or find someone with a chip scanner. It just adds steps to getting dogs home.

“Some people don’t keep the chip up to date, also.

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“I think it’s down to owners to do their part and keep their chips up to date and have a collar with a tag on as well when they go out.

“It’s important to get the right harnesses too – a Y-shaped harness is much better for their mobility, while others go straight across the shoulders and restrict movement.”

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

Fines of up to £500 are also enforceable for dog owners who fail to chip their pets from the age of eight weeks.

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This fine also applies if the owner’s details, including an address or telephone number, change but are not updated on the database.

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