- Keeper of a dog
- What is meant by strict liability?
- Damage caused
- Excused liability
The keeper of a dog is not always the same person as the owner of a dog. As a Dog Walker, I collect other peoples dogs, transport them to a favoured place and off we go for a walk before I return them home. Whilst I have these dogs in my care, I am the Keeper, it’s me who is in possession of them and they are under my control, I am therefore responsible not just for their health and wellbeing but other people who may come into contact with these dogs also. This includes any offences that may be committed whilst the dogs are in my care. If the keeper of the Dog is under 16 years of age, the parent would be responsible.
Section 7 of (The Damages act)
Subject to subsection (2) below, in this Act “personal injury” includes any disease and any impairment of a person’s physical or mental condition and references to a claim or action for personal injury include references to such a claim or action brought by virtue of the M1Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and to a claim or action brought by virtue of the M2Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
As you see above, Damage is described as Personal Injury, including disease and any impairment of a person’s physical or mental condition. So that person does not have to be bitten to cause damage, but if any person, for any reason, feels threatened by a dog that isn’t under proper control, e.g. will not recall and is acting aggressively, can sue for damages, Damages here includes damage to the person and damage to inanimate objects, but not to other dogs. You would have to take this up in a Civil Case under The dogs Act section 2 1871, But, it does include Sheep Worrying. The Dogs Act 1953 (protection of Livestock) The difference between livestock and other damage, e.g. damage to a dog, is that with livestock it can also be a criminal offence, Criminal Damage ACT 1971. Strict Liability rules still remain.
Section 2 of (The Animals Act 1971) talks about Damage caused by Animals.
Where damage is caused by an animal which does not belong to a dangerous species, a
keeper of the animal is liable for the damage, except as otherwise provided by this Act, if—
(a)the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which,
if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe; and
(b)the likelihood of the damage or of its being severe was due to characteristics of the
animal which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally so
found except at particular times or in particular circumstances; and
(c)those characteristics were known to that keeper or were at any time known to a person
who at that time had charge of the animal as that keeper’s servant or, where that keeper is
the head of a household, were known to another keeper of the animal who is a member of
that household and under the age of sixteen.
The Animals Act is Civil and applies only to England and Wales, Other legislation is in place for NI and Scotland.
This is a Civil Act so any outcomes to the proceedings will not result in a criminal record. If you lose you will likely incur all the court costs, fines and any compensation.
The Keeper of a dog can be deemed negligent if they don’t take precautions to prevent damage from their dog.
When damage is done, including causing fear, then negligence is present, and does not need proving, no ifs no buts, Guilty until Proven Innocent. This is known as Strict Liability.
Strict liability means that negligence by the owner does not have to be proven and that they are responsible for any damage caused by their dog whatever the circumstances. Strict liability means there is no designation for ‘mens rea’, which is the awareness of criminal conduct, so therefore a person may be guilty even without the knowledge that their act was criminal, or without the intention of committing a crime.
Strict Liability does not depend on whether there is any intention or negligence on the keepers part, if damage is caused you are strictly liable. Where damage is concerned, negligence does not have to be proven.
In the case of mental impairment, a dog doing normal dog things in front of a person who is afraid of dogs is not an offence, as long as it is under control and can be recalled easily.
It is the owners/keepers responsibility to ensure they take all necessary precautions to keep their dog safe and to ensure members of the public are not put into situations that could easily be avoided with the dog. The owner/keeper is responsible for the consequences.
There are exceptions to the Strictly Liable rule:
· If the person who is affected by the damage is deemed to be completely to blame for the damage. E.g. if they were running up, to the dog, waving their arms aggressively, kicking the dog, deliberately taking it over threshold.
· If the person sustaining the damage voluntarily ‘accepted the risk’ e.g., in the case of a dog walker, the person had full knowledge of the dogs behaviour before they accepted the contract and knew there was a chance the dog would bite them or someone else.
· Animals kept on premises or in a structure where the person who sustained the damage was trespassing. This is only an exception if the dog attacks inside the home, The Garden as well as your Car are classed as public places. Recently added in 2014 Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act.
· If a dog is kept on the property as protection, or , if it is kept for guarding purposes, The dog must be under the control of the handler at all times, or correctly tethered, signage would need to be displayed at the entrances, stating, Dogs Loose please do not enter. Only under these circumstances is this an exemption to Strict Liability. See the Guard Dogs Act 1975
Dog signs like, beware of the dog, enter at your own risk, are practically an admission of guilt if anything were to happen to a visitor or the postman who entered your garden or premises quite innocently and gets attacked by a dog(s).
An example of excused Liability could be.
A dog is on the grounds of a car recycling plant during out of hour’s business.
The dog is not aggressive by nature or ever shown anything to suggest otherwise, it has however been placed their as a deterrent to stop theft whilst under full control of a handler.
The gates are clearly signposted warning of a protection / guard dog.
An intruder ignores the sign and climbs the fence entering the premises for a dishonest purpose.
The dog hears the intruder alerting the handler who has the dog on leash and under control, the intruder panics, and trips causing injury to them
The dog has made no physical contact but according to the intruder makes a claim of mental scarring after arrest.
In this case the Intruder has accepted the risk by climbing the fence and illegally made his way onto the property, the dog had a right to be there for the purpose and could be classed as reasonable with the behavior it presented.
Under the 1975 Guard dogs act the legal criteria has been fulfilled, not making the intruder eligible to any financial award for personal injury, loss or damage.
The other clauses relate to Livestock and Horses, if your dog were to kill a sheep that had strayed onto your land would be exempt, that’s if the dog attacked the sheep on its owner’s property.
The dog is only guilty if the sheep is attacked on property where the dog does not have permission to be.
If your dog entered a private field, let’s say it jumped over a fence, and this field had in it a horse(s) if the horse was to hurt or killed your dog the owner of the Horse is not liable. The keeper of the dog would be responsible for any vet costs incurred for the horse due to the incident.
Section 3 of the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 discusses keeping dogs under proper control.
If a dog is dangerously out of control in [F1 any place (whether or not ][F2 any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) ]) —
(a)the owner; and
(b)if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog, is guilty of an offence, or, if the dog while so out of control injures any person[F3 or assistance dog ], an aggravated offence, under this subsection.
This is a Criminal Act. Section 3 also discusses damages caused from a dog being dangerously out of control
Your dog does not have to be of a banned breed type but any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension it will injure any person, (mental impairment) they only have to think they will be hurt and you have committed an offence.
For Reference, the Banned Breeds under Section 1 BSL are the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero
The DDA 1991 Act does not include harming or attacking other dogs. But it has been extended to include attacking assistance dogs, like a guide dog for a blind person,
If my friend came round to see me, and I invite them into my home I must ensure that any dogs in my care are either restrained or in another room or under control. If any visitor invited into my house is bitten or attacked or in fear for their life, even sustaining no wounds prosecuted under the DDA 1991. An aggravated offence if the bite is sustained. Obviously if I shouted, Dog Kill, and it attacked and injured someone. I would be charged with a very serious crime like Malicious wounding and even worse if the person died.
If my friend came round to see me and we sat in the Garden and my dog attacked or bit her this would be acriminal offence under Section 3 of the DDA 1991. My dog biting anyone in my garden is classed as dangerously out of control, and I should take precautions, especially if I know the dog’s behaviour is volatile. It would fall under the DDA 1991 as it is an aggravated offence under section 3 DDA 1991 as amended criminal matter and would more than likely go to criminal court.
However Your garden being classed the same as a public place is a recent addition, 2014. anti Antisocial behaviour crime and policing Act Part 7 Section 106, It does bring into question, a dog playing outside his house, in a fenced garden, and the postman walks through the gate, the dog is happy to see a human, starts jumping up at him and licking his hand at every opportunity. If the postman was genuinely afraid of dogs and genuinely thought he was being attacked, though no damage done, the dog is simply exhibiting normal behaviour. It will be interesting to see, how far they will take it. No president has yet been set in a criminal court.
If I am aware that a dog has bad recall, and have still let him off lead in a public place, without a muzzle, knowing full well he will chase sheep and possibly kill one, or will bound up to other people growling and snarling and that he may injure someone, I, as the keeper of the dog at the time of the incident will be charged.
The owner will also be held accountable, but they will have a defence as they believed me to be a Fit and Proper person, professional dog walker who is qualified enough to know what I am doing, and should be able to prove they were not the person in control of the dog at the time.
Penalties for DDA Section Three offences:
· Up to 6 months imprisonment
· £5000 fine
· A Control Order placed on the dog
· Destruction order placed on the dog
· Disqualification from owning an animal for such a period of time as the court deems fit.
· Up to 14 years imprisonment if a person dies as a result of being injured
· Up to 5 years imprisonment in other cases where a person in injured
· Up to 3 years imprisonment where an assistance dog is injured or killed
· A control Order placed on the dog
· Destruction of the dog
· Disqualification from owning an animal for such a period of time as the court deems fit.
Control orders usually include:
· Muzzling the dog at all times in public places
· Keeping the dog on a lead in public places, (including your car and garden)
· Not allowing the dog to be under the control of a minor
An interesting article I came across by Richard Gladstone (April 2019), (Hastings Observer [online] “Hastings dog owner calls for change in law after pet mauled to death)”
Where another dog brutally attacked and killed their dog. The police came round but advised there was nothing they could do as the DDA only covers attacks on humans.
There are other avenues which the victim could have pursued? such as, Section 2 of the Animals Act 1971 or the Dogs Act 1871. The offender did not have his dog under proper control, his recall was obviously bad and he was off lead in a public place. This could be pursued in Civil Court.
Only Section 2 of the Dogs Act remains and it refers to a dog that is dangerous and not kept under proper control and can result in a control order or destruction of the dog.
A neighbours dog escaped the garden and ran over to the defendant and bit his knee, the defendant was emptying the trash at the time. The neighbours denied liability, and they maintained that the defendant had misinterpreted the Animals Act 1971.
The defendant spent time in hospital as he developed a secondary infection from the bite which was initially a minor word; this caused the defendant to have mental health problems as far as depression. Whilst the neighbours maintained their denial, another two witnesses came forth and advised that the dog had a history of aggression, that they had seen the dog run across the street, jump up at the defendant and the wounds recorded as a dog bite. This was eventually settled out of court for the sum of 36.000.00. (.dogbite Solicitors)[online] (n.d) (30.000 for Lancashire Dog Bite Man told “No Claim!”)
- What is reasonable care?
- Reporting accidents involving dogs
- When is a lead necessary
- Fouling of footways, public open spaces
- Motorway rules
- Public Space Protection Orders
As the owner or carer of a dog you need to exert Reasonable Care especially when taking a dog for a walk, on or near a road. The Highway Codes Rule 56 explains a dog cannot be out on the road on its own, it MUST be kept on a short lead, when walking on a pavement and this includes any road or path shared with cyclists, pedestrians or horse riders. So this can also mean Bridle ways.
Reasonable care taken from (thefreedictionary.com) is:
the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordin arily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances. This is a subjective test of determining if a person is negligent, meaning he/she did not exercise reasonable care.
Therefore saying you should be aware of the laws, your dog’s behaviour, you should have the relevant knowledge and understanding, quite a lot of responsibility.
The term ‘Reasonable care’ is commonly used in law to give an indication of a standard allowing the variation of circumstances an element of flexibility. A Level of care in specific circumstances is expected but not an absolute, therefore allowing for consideration not demanding a set criterion to be fulfilled.
An Example, would be, if your dog cuts his leg on barbed wire whilst on his morning walk, you have a duty of care towards your dog to keep him healthy. Whilst you are expected to take the dog to a vet, it would be advised that you also do a Canine First Aid course so you can be better prepared for emergencies like this whilst out on walks. This would show reasonable care. However as the owner of the dog you are not required by law to do so.
If you are a business who walks dogs for money, you are now by law required to have a Canine/Pet First Aid certificate.
If your Garden backs onto a road, you must ensure that the fence is adequate and escape proof, so that your dog cannot escape onto the road. Reasonable Care must be exercised to show you are maintaining the fence and therefore taking precautions. You would however be excused liability if you garden had a public right of access and a rambler left the gate open. This is the same for Sheep, Cattle and Horses.
Another example: If a dog is well trained by its owner and is contained within garden. The boundaries are not in pristine condition and well below 6ft in height. This dog never breaches the boundaries despite the condition and easy as to the main road, which is maintained by the highways agency. This would show reasonable care is taken, due to the training and zero issues in the past.
The Highway Code rule 56 says: Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders. This includes bridleways. Too many times I see people walking their dog off lead down the pavement or country lane.
An example from as recent as this morning shows why it is necessary to keep your dog on a lead when walking on a public highway: I am driving down a country lane, no road markings or pavements, so I am only travelling around 20 miles per hour as I know there are horses, people and Livestock possibly around every corner. I see the hazard as I turn around the corner. A King Charles Spaniel walking down the road with his owner off lead, I slowed down, because the lady saw my car coming and I watched as she walked the dog, with her legs into the side of the road, of course being off lead and shoved onto a grass embankment with his owners feet, is a sure sign the dog will try to escape the situation. The dog ran into the road, it was unhurt I was travelling slow enough to stop easily. but the lady did not understand that she had broken any laws and laid the blame entirely at my feet. Always have a copy of the Highway Code in your car, just for instances like these.
The Road Traffic ACT 1988 section 27 Control of Dogs on Road, also says it is an offence to allow a dog to be on a designated road without being held of a lead, is guilty of an offence. A designated road here is means a length of road specified by an order on behalf of the local authority in whose area the length of road is situated. This could include a park. Which will be discussed later in this assignment?
The Road Traffic Act 1988 specifies that all dogs should be kept under control by the owner, or whoever is in charge of the dog at that time on a road, and reasonable care must be taken to ensure the dog does not cause injury or damage by straying onto a road.
The person walking a dog must also be deemed able to control it, for example if a 50kg Rottweiler escapes from the control of a 5-year-old child and causes a road accident, then the owner would be liable as reasonable care had not been taken to prevent the dog from escaping.
Exemptions to leash laws: It does not apply to any pack of hounds, or any dog being used for sporting purposes, any dog being used for the capture or destruction of vermin, any dog while being used for the herding cattle or sheep, any dog being used in rescue work, or any dog registered with the guild dog for the blind association, any dog while being used on official duties by a member of the police or armed forces. However the dog must be actively engaged in this duty at the time, not just out for a walk with his owner.
Accidents involving Dogs
If you hit a dog with your car, you must stop, try to locate the owner or contact the police, If a member of the public or the owner asks you for your name, address and contact details in relation to the incident, you must tell them, If you do not give your details you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours. You must do this whether the animal was killed or not, and you must do this for Dogs, Horses, Cattle, Pigs, Goats, Sheep, Donkeys and Mules……….But this does not apply to Cats!
There are exclusions to the rules which are dependent on the vehicle classification. Exceptions under Section 189 of the Highways act are:
- Mechanically propelled vehicles for the purpose of cutting grass controlled by a pedestrian, and not capable of modification for another purpose.
E.g. a lawnmower
- Any propelled vehicle controlled by a pedestrian as stated under section 140 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. (E.g. Electric bicycles as per regulation and power output) including mobility scooter.
- If the dog is carried within or on the propelled vehicle
An example is a man driving down the road, a dog runs into the road quite unexpectedly, the driver breaks, but hits the dog. The Dog is fine, it leaps up and runs off, a passer by knows the dog in question and asks the man for his name and address, insurance details so that the owner can contact him if needed. The driver did not want to give his details to the passer by as the dog appeared to be uninjured. The Driver left the scene and contacted the police when he got home and explained the situation and answered all questions.
This has protected the man from prosecution should the owner call the police the next day attempting to report a hit and run.
We have a Legal duty to clean up after our dog, unless you are registered blind of course. So you are duty bound to pick up any mess your dog leaves in all public spaces, this is to stop the spread of disease, failing to do so can lead to an on the spot fine, which can cost £75 and you could be taken to court if you persist and there you can face up to £1000 fine plus legal expenses.
Dog Faeces can carry parasites which can cause the spread of disease, some of these infections parasites can carry harmful infections to humans like Toxocariasis, the (NHS UK) says: “Toxocariasis is a rare infection caused by roundworm parasites. Humans can catch it from handling soil or sand contaminated with infected animal faeces. Roundworm parasites are most commonly found in cats, dogs and foxes, and usually affect young children. This is because children are more likely to come into contact with contaminated soil when they play and put their hands in their mouths. However, cases have been reported in people of all ages”.
Some spaces are exempt from liability these include Agricultural Land, Woodland, Rural Common Land, Marshland and Heath land, and on highways with a speed limit of 50mph or over.
Bins are provided by the council for you to place the used bag into, However where there are no bins available, you are to carry the bag(s) home with you and put it in to your own dustbin.
Estimates put the UK dog population between 6.5 and 7.4 million, producing 1,000 tonnes of faeces every day says Keep Britain Tidy.
PSPO (public space protection order)
The Road Traffic Act 1988 section 27 shows it is an offence to allow a dog to be on a designated road without being held on a lead. Under recent legislation, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, Local authorities were passed powers to produce Public Space Protection Orders; these include Dog Control and behaviour.
Parks and recreational areas, Shopping Centres stipulate that dogs must be kept on a lead at all times, other orders include No more than 4 dogs walked at a time, clear up any faeces, and carry poo bags. Do not enter certain parts of the area, like a play park. The Public Space Protection Orders are usually found in parks, and places where there are children and a high volume of people, it also includes Farmland. These spaces are well signed at the entrance.
Local councils must let the public know where PSPOs are in place.
If dogs are not allowed in a park, there must be signs saying so.
If the council plans to put a new PSPO in place, it must put up a notice and publish it on its website. It will tell you where the PSPO will apply and show you a map of the area.
For not adhering to these PSPO’s you can be fined £100 on the spot (a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’) or up to £1,000 if it goes to court.
There are exemptions to the order, it does not apply to any pack of hounds, or any dog being used for sporting purposes, any dog being used for the capture or destruction of vermin, any dog while being used for the herding cattle or sheep, any dog being used in rescue work, or any dog registered with the guild dog for the blind association, any dog while being used on official duties by a member of the police or armed forces. However the dog must be actively engaged in this duty at the time, not just out for a walk with his owner.
Example: A dog and his owner walking through a park play area, with his dog, off lead when there is a sign prohibiting dogs from entering the play area, and advice of fines with non compliance of rules. The owner is an off duty police man and his dog is a sniffer/drug dog who is also off duty at the time of entering the park play area. They are stopped by the local inspector and they are issued a penalty notice for the offence.
Motorway & Driving
Reasonable Care is required when driving with a Dog(s) in your car; they must be suitably restrained in a dog harness, crate, or a Dog Guard between you and them so as to avoid any distractions, injury to yourself or the dog(s) if you have to stop suddenly. (Rule 57 of The Highway Code).
If you are driving along a Motorway towing a Horse trailer or a large vehicle transporting animals you cannot use the Right Hand lane, your maximum speed limit is 60mph. If your Car breaks down on the Motorway and you have animals/dogs in the car you must NOT let them out of the car. Unless directed to do so by a police officer or involved in an accident and they are properly restrained.
(The Motorways Traffic (England & Wales) Regulations 1982), section 14, contains the rules governing the handling of animals on motorways. Under this act, it is an offence to remove or permit an animal to leave a vehicle whilst the vehicle is on the motorway. It is also an offence to allow the dog to escape from the vehicle, or be removed from the vehicle, if the vehicle needs to be evacuated for safety reasons The dog must be kept only on the motorway verge, on a suitable lead under proper control whilst you wait for assistance.
Example I am driving down the motor way, my dog is in the front seat, she has no seatbelt on, the window is open and the dog has its head out of the window. In the back, I have another dog, this is separated from the front of the car by a dog guard, this dog is clipped on to a carabiner clip via his harness. The Highway Patrol flashes and sounds behind me, I pull over at my earliest and safest convenience. Now I am on the hard shoulder. The police inform me of the potential accidents that could happen and charges for careless driving or even worse, dangerous driving, the penalty of which attracts not just a custodial sentence but also a mandatory disqualification of at least twelve months. The dog in the back, restrained with a harness and the dog guard is perfectly legal, but to allow my dog into the front seat of a car without restraints and then allow her to put her head out of the window whilst travelling at speed in a car is an offence.
(Liam Deacon) (12.4.2019) wrote in (The Daily Star) ‘Pet dog dies after ‘leaping from car window on M5 motorway’ Sadly the owner had the dog in the front seat, unsecured and the window of the car was open, the dog jumped out whilst they were travelling at speed and was killed by oncoming traffic.
The rules apply to all animals, including those being towed on a trailer, like livestock or horses. Any person in charge and responsible for the animals at the time of an incident must obey the rules, failure to comply is a criminal offence.
Animals being herded on a road or country lane should be kept under control at all times, ideally with someone at the front of the herd warning oncoming traffic and someone at the back keeping the herd moving forward. It is best to herd during daylight hours but if you have to do it when it is dark, wear reflective clothing, the person at the front should hold a white light and the person at the back should use a red one so that any traffic can see them from both directions. For more information see Rule 58 of the Highway Code
- When must a dog wear a collar, and what are the conditions of wearing?
- What is a highway?
- When is a dog collar NOT needed to be worn?
- What powers are there if not worn?
- What legislation do stray dogs come under?
- What powers and offences are there under the Dogs act 1906 relating to stray dogs?
- What is the responsibility of a person finding a stray dog?
- What are the powers of seizure, and rights of disposal?
The Control of Dogs Act 1992 says that every dog whilst in a public place or on a highway, shall wear a collar with ID inscribed on the collar or badge attached to it.
This does not include dogs while being used for sporting purposes, dogs used for the capture or destruction of vermin, dogs herding sheep or cattle, any dog being used by the police, customs, or the army. Any dog being used for search and rescue and any dog registered with the guild dogs for the blind association.
Dog ID Collars/Tags should include your postcode and contact number, I use collars with my business name and phone number embroidered on them.
(The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015) mean that from 6 April 2016, every dog that is older than 8 weeks must be microchipped. Breeders must ensure that their puppies are microchipped before they leave for their new home.
When you purchase or re-home a dog the new owner must inform the database company who have the microchip details, in order to keep the new address and contact details up to date, you should check that the rescue centre or original owner has already done this. No owner can transfer a dog to a new owner until it has been microchipped, unless a certificate has been issued by a Vet, stating that the dog should not be microchipped for health reasons.
Microchipping alone is not enough; you still need to use and ID collar or Tags if you are out and about.
My local Council Oldham MBC says on their website:
“Every dog must wear a collar with the name and address of its owner attached to it whilst out on a public highway.
Having the correct identification means that if your dog strays, it can be returned to you quickly.
If the Council catches a stray dog and the owner can’t be traced, the dog will be kept in boarding kennels at the owner’s expense. If the dog is not collected within seven days, it could be re-homed, sold or destroyed.
Owners of dogs without identification can be fined up to £5000.
If your dog is collected you will be charged and fines or kennels costs before it is returned. As it is an offence to allow a dog to stray, owners of persistently straying dogs may be prosecuted”.
Dogs found wandering around without a visible owner on a public highway are classed as stray
A public highway is any public road or public right of way, any public place including shopping centres, parks, resorts and bridle ways.
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 section 68 removes the responsibility of the police for dealing with stray dogs, it repeals section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906, which enabled the police to seize and detain stray dogs. This is now the responsibility of the Local Councils. The police still have powers to seize and detain stray dogs under the Dogs Protection of Livestock Act 1953.
Legislation covering Stray Dogs is also covered in, Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992 the Control of Dogs Order 1992.’
Any Dog without its owner and not under the control of anyone can be seized and detained as a stray dog by the Council Dog Warden. ‘Where a Warden finds a dog in a public place a dog he believes to be stray, he can seize and detain it. However if the dog is on private land the Warden must first get permission of the land owner or occupier of the premises.
If you find a stray dog, you cannot take that dog home and keep it for your own, nor can you sell the dog or give it away. You need to first check for a collar and any Identification on or attached to it and return it to the owner.
If there is no ID, you should contact the local Council Dog Wardens; they will scan the dog for a Microchip and attempt to contact the owners,
The Dog Wardens will take the dog to their kennels and keep it for 7 days before re-homing, selling or destroying the dog.
There is a dog seized register which can be viewed at your local council
Stray Dogs cannot be sold for vivisection
Should you wish to keep a stray dog, you must ask the Dog Wardens, this will be possible but there are procedures that have to be followed. You will have to keep the dog for at least a month, make efforts towards locating the owner, only then if the owner has not been found may you be allowed to keep the dog or sell the dog. You can at any point give the dog to the Dog Wardens if you feel the responsibility is too much and change your mind about keeping it, this must be done within the time period of searching for the owner, you cannot decide to give it back 2 years later.
I found an interesting discussion on (The Digital Spy) (31.7.2008) [online] (public forum) where a man had been prosecuted and fined in a magistrate’s court for his dog straying multiple times and having no ID Collar. The man was fined £600 The discussion itself shows a variety of different opinions and some even regarding the law on ID Collars as another way of making money.
Example. One of my dogs has escaped the garden and caused traffic chaos at the junction at the bottom of the road. I am unaware that the dog is missing. I am eventually tracked down by the dog wardens who have my dog at their facility. I go down to collect the dog, and I am fined, lectured and advised that if this happens again I could find myself in court.