There is no legal definition of a stray dog. The RSPCA defines it as "one that is in a public place and not under the charge of a keeper". When a person is not in control, dogs can cause problems, such as road accidents, damage to property and fouling. They can be aggressive towards people and other pets. A responsible dog owner will do everything they can to keep their pet and others safe.
Who is responsible for stray dogs?
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Section 68) makes local authorities solely responsible for dealing with stray dogs. The Police are no longer responsible for stray dogs. Any stray dogs that are tethered, or securely held, will be collected by our Community Wardens.
What we do for stray dogs
If we cannot immediately identify the owner of a stray dog, they are taken to a registered kennels for safe keeping. All efforts will be made to reunite microchipped dogs, or dogs wearing collars with tags, with their owners before being taken to the kennels.
Unclaimed dogs that can't be identified
The law states that all dogs must now be microchipped. Dogs in public places should also have a collar and identification tag. Owners have seven days to claim their dogs. Any that are not claimed are found a new home.
Cost of looking after stray dogs
A handling fee, together with any vet or kennelling costs, must be paid before a dog can be reclaimed by its owner. We also keep a register of lost and found dogs.
Putting stray dogs down
We will never put down a dog unless a vet recommends it, because the dog:
- is suffering;
- cannot be operated upon, or medicated;
- is aggressive, or will be a danger to people;
- has the physical characteristics of a banned breed, see dangerous dogs.
Our policy is, wherever possible, to rehome or pass onto local rehoming charities any unclaimed stray dogs.
Reuniting a stray dog and owner
If you have lost your dog you can tell us by using the:
When the Council is closed, please use our 'out of hours' emergency number: 01768 212499.
If your dog is microchipped and your contact details with the microchipping company are up-to-date, it is likely that you will be reunited quicker and the stray dog service charges will be smaller.
Found a stray dog?
If you have found a stray dog you can tell us by using the:
When the Council is closed, please use our out of hours emergency number 01768 212499.
We have been awarded the RSPCA Gold Award for the stray dog service our Community Wardens provided each year from 2011 to 2017.