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According to The Control of Dogs Order 1992 law for Scotland and England, a dog must wear a collar with the owner's name and address on it, and using a harness does not adhere to this law.
People who breach this law are considered guilty under the Animal Health Act 1981 and it is punishable by a fine of £5000 and "a maximum penalty of up to six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine."
Though this is the maximum, the fine is likely to be lower.
The law obligates dog owners to include a name, street address, and postcode on their dog's collar and tag.
Owners are not required to include a phone number but this can be helpful if the dog is lost.
In 2018, one pet owner was fined £50, and required to pay £50 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge after their dog was found without a collar in the East Midlands.
Many dog owners may be surprised to find out that letting your dogs out without a collar, even to run around a park, is a criminal offence but the law is the law and you should obey it to avoid fines.
This could be sad news for owners of small dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers or French Bulldogs, as collars can put pressure on their windpipes and cause health problems, which is why many owners choose to use a harness instead.
More and more dog owners are using harnesses now, as when owners need to control their dog, pulling on a harness is less harmful than pulling on a collar.
The law does not specify whether using a harness with an ID tag attached will leave you safe from a fine, so it's best to verify this with the police and legal aid.
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