There are more than 50 statutes in the UK that deal with dogs and, in many ways, legislation has, at least on paper, offered the chance to greatly improve canine welfare.
Laws are useless though, without resources to enforce them.
I was judging at a local dog show this weekend and hardly any of the competitors had legal tags. Many had purchased customised engraved tags from a local branch of a large chain. More than one had been told that it was “illegal” to have there dog’s name on the tag (it is not illegal, bit it is inadvisable). The others had not been told that they must, by law, display their surname and full address.
The number of fines and prosecutions are low in comparison to the number of offences – especially dogs off lead on roads, fouling and illegal boarding.
Local authorities are allowed to levy their own fines for many offences and this places offenders in a national lottery. Some authorities are very active, others not at all, even with fixed penalty fines. North Somerset handed out 1,313 fixed penalty notices, Bristol just 2.
It is good that people are being called to account for their actions, but it shouldn’t be a gamble.