Stray Dog Policy
Our Stray Dog Policy details the scope of the council's responsibilities in respect of the successful control of stray dogs.
Policy in respect of Stray Dogs
The Council has a duty under s.149(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) to appoint an officer "for the purpose of discharging the functions ¦ for dealing with stray dogs found in the area of the authority". Swale Borough Council currently employs one Animal Control Officer, who also carries out the duties of 'Dog Warden'. The council also employs four other officers who are trained in the handling of stray dogs. This allows for full cover of holidays and sickness, and also allows the council to operate an out of hours stray dog service.
- A dog roaming unattended in a public place is deemed to be a 'stray' and the dog warden will 'seize' and detain it. Members of the public who find a stray dog are required by the Environmental Protection Act to either return it to its owner, or contact the local authority of the area where it was found.
- Current legislation requires a dog in a public place to be fitted with a collar and a tag bearing the name and address of the owner. Where a stray dog has a form of identification (including a microchip), or the owner of the dog is known, the Dog Warden will attempt to return the dog to the owners first. This service may result in a fee being payable to the council. In some circumstances, we may serve upon the owner a notice of seizure (ss. 149(3) and (4) EPA). The notice specifies that the dog has been seized, where it is being kept and that it is liable to be disposed of if it is not claimed within seven clear days from the date of the notice.
- The owner of a stray dog is "not entitled" to the return of the animal until they have paid all the expenses incurred and a further prescribed sum (s.149(5) EPA). Should the dog not be claimed, or the owner declines to pay the sums outstanding, the ownership of the dog is legally transferred to the Council after seven clear days. The Council is then entitled to sell or re-home the dog, or to have it humanely destroyed.
The Environmental Protection Act specifies that in each case, a dog seized as a stray is required to be detained and a notice of seizure served upon the owner (where known). In addition, the policy of the Council is that, on the first occasion that a dog is seized, the Dog Warden will make all reasonable efforts to identify the owner and return it to them before taking it to kennels. The Dog Warden carries a scanning device to identify dogs fitted with a microchip. If the address of the owner is identified, the Dog Warden will either visit or telephone; if contact is made, the dog will be returned to the owner after all fees have been paid.
- A dog will only be returned to an address if there is someone able to receive the dog - it will not be left at an unoccupied property, for example where the owner is out. A dog seized on a second occasion is automatically taken directly to the kennels, thus incurring kennelling costs as well as fees and charges.
- If the officer feels that an animal is in need of veterinary treatment, appropriate arrangements will be made for the animal to receive such treatment usually before taking the animal to the kennels, or returning it to the owners.
- Whilst the dog is in the care of the council, or its allocated kennelling establishment, every effort will be taken to ensure that the five welfare needs defined under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 are met.
- Fees and Charges (View the Fees and charges for the Council.)
The Council currently insists on the full amount (statutory fee, handling fee, kennelling fees, plus any veterinary costs incurred) be paid before a stray dog is released to a claimant.
- Statutory fees for stray dogs are £25.00 plus £15.00 service charge. Kennelling fees of £15.00 for the first day and £10.00 for each subsequent day (subject to review) are payable immediately the animal is received; therefore a dog held overnight incurs two days kennelling costs. Thus any dog kennelled will immediately incur charges of £55.00 (plus any veterinary fees), even if it is only held for a matter of hours and reclaimed the same day.
- Out-of Hours
Swale Borough Council operates an out of hours stray dog collection service. This service operates from 17.00 to 21.00 Mondays to Fridays, 09.00 to 21.00 at weekends and bank holidays, excluding Christmas day, Boxing Day, and Easter Sunday. Dogs collected during out of hours incur an additional £15.00 service charge. This service can be contacted on the following number: 07795237479. All enquires during office hours should be made to 01795 417850.
It is the responsibility of the claimant to visit the kennels to recover their dog. Detained stray dogs will not be released by the kennels until all costs incurred are paid in full.
- Unclaimed strays
Stray dogs are held for a minimum period of seven (7) clear days following seizure. After this period, ownership of the dog reverts to the Council.
- Section 149(6) of the Environmental Protection Act entitles the Council to deal with unclaimed stray dogs in one of three ways:
- By selling it or giving it to a person who will, in his opinion, care properly for the dog;
- By selling it or giving it to an establishment for the reception of stray dogs; or
- By destroying it in a manner to cause as little pain as possible;
- Provided that no dog shall be sold or given for the purposes of vivisection.
- Once transferred to the Council or re-homed to a new owner, the former owner of a stray dog has no legal claim for the return of the animal.
Stray Dog Release Fees
View the Fees and charges for the Council.
NB -When dogs are re-homed, they will be micro-chipped as standard, after a seven day trial period. Advice is also given to owners who are re-united with their animals with regards to responsible ownership, and the current legislation. A micro-chipping service is available to these customers at a reduced cost.
NB - The council will try to identify all dead dogs which have been brought to our attention, so that owners can be notified, or investigations initiated. The veterinary offices where we take deceased animals will routinely scan dead dogs (and cats) for microchips.