Stray Dogs and the Law

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environments Act 2005, from 6th
April 2008 Rochford District Council has had sole responsibility for
providing a stray dog service to the public in the Rochford District
Council Area. The Police no longer accept found dogs at the police
station nor do they take reports of lost or found dogs.

During normal Office hours, stray dogs will be collected by the
Councils contracted dog warden or can be taken directly to the Council
kennels by the finder. Out side these hours, callers to the Councils
out of hours service on 01268 527317 will be directed to an acceptance
point where stray dogs will be cared for.

Please note: The Council is not required to provide a
service to collect stray dogs out of hours.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 150 places an
obligation on the finder of a stray dog to:

  1. Return the dog to its owner or
  2. Contact the local authority for the area in which the dog was

If the finder fails to follow this procedure they will have
committed an offence and may be liable, upon conviction, to a fine of
up to £500 (level 2).

Finders requesting to keep a stray dog

Occasionally the finder of a stray dog may wish to keep it. In this
case you must contact the Council with the dog's full descriptive
details and your name and address, so that they can be recorded in our
register. If you choose to keep the dog the law requires you to do so
(unless it is claimed by its owner) for not less than 28 days and that
failure to comply with this obligation is a criminal offence.

The law also requires us to make all reasonable enquiries to
ascertain that the finder is a fit and proper person to keep the dog
and that he/she is able to feed and care for it. Therefore a Council
Officer will visit the finder (usually within one working day) to
discuss the care of the dog and explain the finders legal
responsibilities. This visit will be followed up with a letter
confirming the details of this visit.

It should be noted that even after 28 days, if a person can prove
that they are the owner of the dog and requests the return of the dog,
then the finder may have to relinquish his/her custodianship of the
dog. Disputes over ownership are a civil matter and the authority does
not become involved.

Register of stray dogs

The Council keeps a register of stray dogs seized by the Dog Warden
under Section 149 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

If you lose your dog, please contact us and we will check the
register to see if your dog has been found, so that you can be re
united. We also keep full details of dogs that have gone missing so
that your dog is found at a later date, we can contact you and return
your dog to you.

The register is available for any member of the public to view
during the Council's normal office hours, free of charge.

The following details are contained in the register:

  • a brief description of each dog, including its breed (if known),
    colour and any distinctive markings
  • any information which is recorded on a collar, tag or micro
  • the date, time and place of seizure by the Local Authority
  • details of any notice served on an owner stating their dog has been
  • details of how an unclaimed dog has been disposed of
  • details of who has reclaimed each dog

Unclaimed Dogs

If, after seven days from being seized (or seven days after an owner
has been notified that their dog has been seized), a dog remains
unclaimed, the Local Authority may, without notice, re-home the

Veterinary Care of Stray Dogs

Stray dogs are checked for any obvious injuries or health problems.
If necessary they are taken to a veterinary surgeon for treatment.
However, if in the veterinary surgeon's opinion the dog's condition is
such that it would be more humane to provide euthanasia or if the cost
of treatment is so excessive, the dog may be destroyed.

If a dog is reclaimed by its owner, all veterinary expenses incurred
whilst the dog was in the care of the Local Authority, must be paid in
full, along with other fees and charges before the dog may be