Dog owners in Liverpool could face £5k fine or jail time for using harnesses over collars for walks

Dog owners across Liverpool must ensure they are using a collar when walking their pups, as those who operate harnesses could face enormous fines or end up behind bars.

The law reads that animals must have a name and address printed on their tag when they are out and about - yes, it still applies if owners use a harness instead of a collar.

Owners usually opt for harnesses to protect their pooches, especially smaller breeds, from windpipe damage due to the collar pushing up against it and making breathing more difficult.

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So what exactly are the rules?

The Control of Dogs 1992 legislation states that dogs across England and Scotland must wear a collar with both the owner’s name and address on it.

It should include a postcode but a phone number is optional.

Those who fail to comply with these rules are in breach of the Animal Health Act 1981, which has traditionally come under a capped ‘level 5’ fine.

Level 5 fines were initially capped at £5,000, though they are now unlimited following a change in 2015.

Since 13 March 2015, all criminal penalties of the act have become “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”, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The change means that any owners found in breach of the law could face an unlimited fine and/or up to six months imprisonment.

It’s not all doom and gloom as fines for breaching these rules have the potential to be a lot lower.

An owner of a Cocker spaniel was issued a fine of £50 in 2018, with £50 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Microchip your pooches

It is best to remember that as well as dog tags, microchips have been a legal requirement for your doggies since 2016.

Owners must ensure that their dogs over the age of eight weeks have a chip officially registered in the DEFRA database.

Any of their details, whether it be an address or telephone number, should be regularly updated as a failure to do so will result in a fine.

Those who fail to meet these standards will be issued with a charge of up to £500.