Dog owners using a harness instead of a collar could be hit with a £5,000 fine

Dog owners who switch from a collar to a harness on walks could be breaking the law if their furry friend isn’t also wearing a collar with an ID tag.

Indeed, not putting your name and address on your dog’s tag when out in public is illegal and could land you a hefty fine – and even jail time.

For some dogs, especially small dogs like Yorkshire terriers, using a collar and leash can put pressure on their windpipes causing health issues, which is why owners choose to use a harness instead, The mirror reports.

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But pet owners who walk their dogs without a proper ID tag could also face up to six months in jail in the worst-case scenario.

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

Persons who breach this rule are considered guilty of an offense under the Animal Health Act 1981, which is “liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale” .

A Tier 5 fine was previously capped at a maximum of £5,000 – but this changed in March 2015.

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

“This is as a result of Section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

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

However, the actual fines imposed will likely be much lower.

In 2018, a Cocker Spaniel who was picked up without a collar near Sapcote, East Midlands, was fined £50 by its owner, with costs of £50 and a victim surcharge of £30 for admitting the offence.

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

Elizabeth J. Harless