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Domestic animal welfare

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into effect in England on 6 April 2007 and provides greater protection for animals.  Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires any person responsible for an animal to care for it properly by providing;

  • A proper diet, including fresh water;
  • Somewhere suitable to live;
  • For it, to be housed with or apart from, other animals, if necessary
  • An environment for it to express normal behaviour patterns
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The majority of people look after their animals well.  However, if you suspect an animal is being cruelly treated please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 (for domestic animals and pets) or Wiltshire Council on 0300 456 0100 (for farm animals).


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We have become aware of an increase in illegal importation of animals.

We know that some people are buying and selling dogs and cats that have been imported illegally from abroad. This trade puts the health of the animals, and the general public, at risk from diseases including rabies.
The UK has been free from rabies for many years. However rabies is still present in many countries across the world. This is why the UK has importation controls for pet animals. These controls are designed to stop rabies and other exotic diseases from being introduced into the UK.

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All dogs and cats must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before entering the UK. Vaccines are not effective in very young animals. Different manufacturers produce vaccines that need to be given at slightly different ages. The minimum age will be prescribed in the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet but is normally three months. In addition all dogs must be treated for tapeworm.

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Do not buy a cat or dog from unknown sources. If you are planning to bring a new animal into your home, it’s important that you know where it comes from and where it was born. Be particularly careful when buying dogs or cats advertised on the internet or through local media such as a newspaper. Illegally imported dogs and cats may not only carry diseases such as rabies but may also be advertised in a way that misleads the buyer regarding the animal’s history, breed or pedigree.

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You can play a part in fighting the illegal trade in pet animals by following some simple guidelines.

If you're planning to buy a cat or dog:

  • Buy your animal from a reputable supplier. Advice on buying a dog or cat is available from a range of animal organisations, such as Dog Advisory Council, Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA
  • Check the animal's history by speaking to a previous owner. If you are buying a puppy or a kitten, you should ask to see it with its mother and the rest of the litter.
  • View the animal and its documentation before you buy. If it was born outside of the UK it must have either a pet passport or a veterinary certificate. The pet passport needs to confirm that it was vaccinated against rabies at the correct age, according to the manufacturer’s data sheet (normally at three months of age. For dogs, the passport should also show that it has been treated for tapeworm.
  • If you have any doubts about an animal, speak to your vet before agreeing to buy it.

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If your new pet is found to be illegally imported and non-compliant with disease control rules, then you may find yourself having to pay for costly quarantine and veterinary bills. If you are unable to meet these costs, this may leave the Local Authority with no option other than to euthanase (put down) the animal.
You can also expect a visit from your Local Authority, who will be conducting an investigation into potential criminal offences. You could become a witness in any further enforcement action.
Don’t let yourself become another victim of the illegal pet trade.

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Under the Control of Dogs order 1992 all dogs when out in public place must wear a collar with an identity tag displaying your name, address and preferably a contact number.

Additionally by law from 6 April 2016 it became compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped and registered on a national database.

This new legislation will help with reuniting lost dogs with their owners and help with tracing animals.

Having a dog microchipped is a simple and quick process with as little stress to the animal as possible. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted just underneath the skin between the shoulder blades via a needle. It’s a process similar to a dog having its annual vaccination and once in place causes the dog no discomfort or pain. For information on how to get a dog microchipped, please contact your local veterinary surgery or dog charity.

It is very important that microchip details are kept up to date to ensure that a lost dog is reunited with the owner as soon as possible. To check or update microchip details, contact the database with which the microchip is registered, if this information is not known, speak to your local veterinary surgery for help and advice.

The council’s Dog Wardens will issue an improvement notice to a dog owner whose dog is not microchipped, giving them three weeks to comply. Failure in complying may lead the dog owner in going to court where a fine of up to £500 could be imposed.

If you have been given a dog and do not know if it is microchipped, your vet will be able to scan the dog for you to check if it has a chip.

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Dangerous dogs

This section provides information in regard to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and how we may be able to help regarding incidents involving a dog believed to be dangerous.

Under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 four breeds of dog are named as prohibited breeds;

These are the:
•Pit Bull Terrier
•Japanese Tosa
•Dogo Argentino
•Fila Braziliero

This makes it illegal to possess any of the above breeds except under strict conditions set out in the Act.

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Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 relates to all dogs of any type or breed. This section makes it a criminal offence for the owner of a dog and any other person in charge of it at the time to allow any dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place or a private place where the dog has no right to be.

Under this section a dog is considered as being out of control if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the dog will injure a person, whether or not it actually does so.

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Although rare dog on human attacks do occur.  If you have been attacked by a dog you should report the incident immediately to Wiltshire Police on 101. It is not the responsibility of the council’s dog wardens to deal with dangerous dogs although we would assist the police should they require our help.

If the dog is still on the loose please ensure that the police are given this information so that steps can be taken to ensure public safety.

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Generally dogs are very social animals. However, like humans, some do take a dislike to others. It is in a dog’s nature to try and satisfy a hierarchy between members of its pack (this includes animals it will come across whilst out on walks) and in order to do this there may ensue a scuffle between dogs. Most incidents are like this and both animals come away unscathed.  However, sometimes things can escalate and serious attacks can occur leaving animals in distress or injured. The best way to avoid any confrontation is to ensure that your dog is kept under close control by keeping the dog on a lead.  The vast majority of incidents that get reported to us involve both parties’ animals being off the lead and therefore not under the complete control of the person walking it.

If you believe your dog has been seriously attacked by another person’s dog please ensure you:

  • Check both dogs thoroughly for any wounds.
  • If your dog is injured ensure you seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible. Do not continue to exercise your dog as the movement may cause any smaller tears to enlarge rapidly.
  • Ensure you take down the other parties details in case it is needed for insurance or prosecution purposes

Any severe dog on dog attacks should be reported immediately to us on 0300 456 0107.

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All dog attacks on livestock should be reported immediately to Wiltshire Police on 101

This section provides information in regard to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and how Wiltshire Council may be able to help regarding incidents involving a dog believed to be dangerous.

Despite what is commonly thought the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 does not only relate to the keeping of Pitt Bull Terriers, this is only a small section of the act.

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Noisy and barking dogs

Dogs bark naturally but the constant barking or whining of a dog can be very disturbing or annoying for neighbours.  Often this problem occurs when you are out of the house and you may not realise that someone is being affected.

In law, a barking dog can be a statutory noise nuisance.  For more information on noise nuisance please see our noise nuisance page.

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Dogs are not by nature solitary animals, they need the security of a family group.  Pet dogs regard their owners as a substitute family and can soon become distressed when left alone for long lengths of time.

Some of the main reasons why a dog may bark are:

  • loneliness
  • boredom or frustration
  • attention seeking
  • defending territory
  • medical problems
  • lack of training

Training is important so that your dog does not bark at anything that moves.  A well-trained dog should be able to distinguish between visitors allowed into the house and people who are intruders.  Good training is essential at an early age.  This combined with affection and companionship should mean that your dog will not develop these bad habits.

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  • Feed and exercise him before you go out and leave him fresh water to drink.
  • Make sure his bed or basket is comfortable and not in a draught or direct sunlight.
  • Make sure that the room is not hot or too cold and that there is adequate ventilation.
  • If you are not returning until after dark, either leave a light on or use a night light that comes on automatically when it gets dark.
  • Leave a radio or television on a low volume for the dog, preferably on a channel which has mainly talking on it, as hearing a human voice will help the dog settle.
  • Some dogs bark because they want to join in with what is going on outside.  If this is the problem, try leaving your dog where he cannot see outside or by pulling down blinds or closing curtains.
  • Allow your dog to have a safe place to go to.  Some dogs bark because of anxiety and ensuring they have a ‘safe place’ will help them to feel they have some security (this could be as simple as a comfortable bed/blanket with toys or could be a dog crate which you could try covering with a blanket to make a hide for them).
  • Some dogs react well to being left with activity toys (such as kongs/activity balls).  These can help preoccupy the dog during the initial anxiety period after you have left the house.
  • If your dog is being left for periods longer than 4 hours it would be highly recommended to get a dog walker/sitter, relative or friend to pop by and allow your dog to stretch its legs in the garden.  This helps as the dog can have some human contact and interaction.
  • Leave at differing times during the day. That way he may not be so concerned each time you leave.  Don't make a fuss of your dog when you leave him.
  • Try putting the dog on his own in another room for a few minutes and then gradually build up the time you leave your dog until he is quiet for a period.  When you return praise him.


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  • Try not to put his kennel near a neighbours’ fence where the dog may be tempted to bark.
  • Ensure the garden is completely secure to prevent your dog from straying locally and causing problems to neighbours.
  • Don't blame the dog and think that you will solve the problem by replacing him with another. All dogs bark and unless you change your lifestyle at the same time the problem will still be there.
  • Considering a second dog for company may help but think about this very carefully.  Do you have the space and can you afford it?  A second dog could result in more not fewer problems.


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Lost and stray dogs

A stray dog is any dog that appears to be without its owner and is straying on public or other land.  

If you have found a stray dog, first check to see if it has any identification showing the owners details. You may be able to make contact with owner and arrange for them to collect it from you. If it has no identification please contact us on 0300 456 0107.

Before calling please note down some details about the dog which you can relay to us over the phone, This helps us to make an accurate recording of the dog and will enable us to match the dog with its owner if it is reported as a lost dog. Please include details such as:

  • The breed of the dog (if you are not sure, how big is it and what does it look like?)
  • Is the dog male or female?
  • What colour is the dog?
  • Is the dog wearing a collar? If so what colour is it?
  • Has the dog got any distinguishing features? (e.g. any scars? A docked tail?)
  • What condition is the dog in?
  • Where and when you found the dog?

Your local dog warden will then be notified that you have found a dog and will get in touch to arrange collection. Please be patient as our dog wardens are working all over the county and could be some distance from you, they will however aim to get to you as soon as they can. Please follow the advice above and telephone the council.

Please note stray dogs may not be left at council offices, kennelling is not available

Once collected the dog will be transported to one of our holding kennels where it will stay until either the owners come forward to collect it or until the dog has been in our care for 7 days after which a new home will be sought for the dog. In order to claim the dog the owner will be required to pay a fee at the kennel, as listed below, before the animal will be released to them. Payment must be by cash or card, cheques are not accepted.

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Our office hours are 9am - 5pm Monday - Friday.

Our out of hours telephone number is 0300 456 0107 (weekends, public holidays and outside of our weekday office hours).

If you are able to care for the dog over the out of hours period your local dog warden will be able to collect the dog on the next working day. Please call our out of hours service and log this with them as they may get a call from the owners who are looking for the dog. On the next working day your local dog warden will make it a priority to collect the dog from you.

If you are unable to keep the dog until the next working day our out of hours service will tell you where our nearest holding kennels are so that you can take the dog to the kennels during their opening hours.

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If you have lost your dog please contact us on 0300 456 0107. If over weekends, public holidays and outside of our weekday office hours, the council's out of hours service will log your details.

We will need a description of the animal, your contact details and where you lost your dog. It may also be worthwhile calling your local veterinary practices and animal rescue centres as these may be someone’s first port of call when finding a dog.

In order to claim a dog that has been taken to our holding kennels the owner will be required to pay a fee (as above) before the animal will be released to them.

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Once collected the dog will be transported to one of our holding kennels where it will stay until either the owners come forward to collect it or until the dog has been in our care for 7 days after which a new home will be sought for the dog. In order to claim the dog the owner will be required to pay a fee at the kennel, as listed below, before the animal will be released to them. Payment must be by cash or card, cheques are not accepted.

Fees 2017/18

Day
Set fee
Admin Fee
Kennel charge inc. VAT
Total per dog
1*
£25
£18
-
£43
2
£25
£18
£18
£61
3
£25
£18
£35
£78
4
£25
£18
£53
£96
5
£25
£18
£69
£112
6
£25
£18
£87
£130
7
£25
£18
£104
£147
8
£25
£18
£122
£165


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Dog Warden Service

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 all local authorities must appoint an officer to deal with stray dogs within the authority area. Wiltshire Council has appointed dog wardens to fulfil this duty. Listed below are some of the tasks of the dog wardens.

  • Stray/lost dogs - Collection of dogs found straying and trying to repatriate them with the owners. If this is not possible they will transport the dog to one of our designated holding kennels. They will ensure the dogs are cared for during the statutory seven day period awaiting the owner to come forward and claim the dog (subject to the payment of the appropriate fee), failing this, a new home is sought after the seven day period.
  • Education - visiting schools throughout the county giving talks on responsible dog ownership including health related issues.
  • Advice - advising members of the public on any dog related queries and dealing with complaints on issues such as dog fouling, dangerous dogs, straying dogs and irresponsible dog owners.
  • Enforcement - enforcing the Dog Control Orders within Wiltshire in partnership with other agencies such as the Police and parish councils and issuing fixed penalty notices where appropriate.
  • Home visits - for dog rescue organisations to assess the suitability and surroundings of prospective dog re-homers.
  • Identification - ensuring that dogs wear a collar and tag for identification.
  • Licensing - carrying out inspections on boarding kennels and catteries, home boarders, dog crèches, pet shops and dog breeders to ensure the meet the required standards.

More information and contact details can be found in the leaflets section of this page.

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Dog fouling

It is an offence for a dog owner not to immediately clear up after their dog has fouled in most open areas in Wiltshire.  Dog faeces left on the ground by irresponsible dog owners is not only unsightly and anti-social but also a potential health risk to young children.  The faeces should be bagged and either taken home by the dog owner or placed in a litter bin.

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Some parishes have special bins for dog faeces but as long as the faeces has been bagged it can be placed in normal litter bins. To get the mess removed you can report instances online report an issue or call Wiltshire Council on 0300 456 0107

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Dog Wardens can also put up dog fouling signs or provide to Parish/Town Councils to erect themselves in their area.  Should you feel that more signs are needed in your neighbourhood you should first bring the matter to the attention of your Parish/Town Council secretary who may have signs available for erecting.

Where dog fouling is persistent, the dog wardens may patrol to give advice and if necessary take enforcement action by issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice or prosecution under the current dog control orders.

Where more signs are needed or there is a greater problem, please report it to the Council on lostdogs@wiltshire.gov.uk

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Dog Control Orders

For more information please contact a dog warden on 0300 4560100

In 2012 Wiltshire Council used powers granted to it under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 to introduce four Dog Control Orders.  These Orders replaced existing Orders which had been in place in the four former District Councils of Wiltshire prior to local government reorganisation in 2009.  They also introduce consistency across the County with regards to how these matters are dealt with and the penalties that can be levied.  

The Dog Control Orders in place throughout Wiltshire are to:-

  1. require the person in charge of a dog to clean up after it has defaecated on any area of land within Wiltshire which is open to the air, including covered land which is open to the air on at least one side and to which the public are entitled to have access with or without payment.
  2. make it an offence for a person in charge of a dog to allow it to enter a children’s play area which is enclosed by a fence, wall or similar structure.
  3. require the person in charge of a dog to put it on a lead of no more than 2 metres in length when required to do by an authorised officer of Wiltshire Council.
  4. require dog walkers in the vicinity of Box Recreation Ground to keep their dogs on a lead at all times.

Note:  There are certain exemptions in the Dog Control Orders for assistance dogs such as guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf.

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The penalty in relation to any offence in any Dog Control Order is, on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding £1,000.

A person may be offered the chance to discharge any liability to conviction for any offence under any Dog Control Order by payment of a fixed penalty of £75.

If the fixed penalty is not paid within the required 14 day period then the individual may be prosecuted for the original offence.

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Dog control orders

Dogs exclusion PDF (70kb)

Petting farms

Visiting a farm is an enjoyable and educational visit for children. However, such visits can never be free of risk. Farm animals carry a number of infections that can be harmful to people. E coli is of particular concern because very small numbers of bacteria can cause serious illness especially in young children. Symptoms may include bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.

The following steps will help to ensure that you and your children avoid the risk of infection:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating, after any contact with animals and again before leaving the site. Young children should be supervised to ensure that they wash hands properly.
  • Follow the instructions and information given by the site staff.
  • Do not kiss animals.
  • Only eat food in designated areas.
  • Never eat food that has fallen to the ground.
  • Never taste animal foods.
  • Do not suck fingers or put hands, pens, pencils or crayons etc. in mouths.
  • Where practical and possible, clean or change their footwear before leaving.
  • Wash your hands after changing their footwear.
  • Cover cuts and grazes with a waterproof dressing.
  • Do not wander into areas that are not intended for public access

If your child has sickness or diarrhoea after a farm visit, go the doctor and explain that they have had recent contact with animals.

If you’d like further information you can download a free leaflet called 'Avoiding infection on farm visits: advice for the public'. Businesses can obtain further information by downloading the Industry Code of Practice.

For more specific advice or to report illness that may be connected with an animal attraction, please contact Public Protection Services, Wiltshire Council at publicprotectionsouth@wiltshire.gov.uk

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Last updated: 21 March 2017 | Last reviewed: 21 March 2017