Dog owners seen walking their four-legged friend with a harness instead of a dog collar risk facing a fine of up to £5,000, or even a six-month jail sentence in a worst-case scenario.

The Star reports that Rain Rescue in Rotherham, a dog rescue charity, has warned that the potential fines boil down to whether or not the harness has the proper identification, as with other dog collars and leads.

Harnesses are a more popular choice among many small dog owners, as traditional collars and leads can put unnecessary strain on a dog’s neck and even damage their windpipe. However, individuals need to ensure that these harnesses still have ID tags.

The 1992 Control of Dogs Order for Scotland and England states that all dogs must wear a collar with the owner’s name and address on it, and anyone in breach of this is considered guilty of an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981 which is ‘punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale’.

Level 5 fines were previously capped at a maximum of £5000, but this changed in March 2015. A spokesperson for DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) said that these fines can now be ‘unlimited’.

In a worst-case scenario, dog owners found guilty of walking their pets without the proper identification could face convictions of six months in prison under section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Ensuring your pet is properly tagged is in your best interest, and not only in terms of your pet’s overall safety, but to make sure that you and all the other pets are protected too.

Harnesses are fine, as long as you purchase one with enough room for a proper ID tag. 

If you’re looking to register a dog microchip, explore our website today.

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