Dog Tag Law

When asked what to put on a dog tag Everyone in the business of Dog ID tags readily quotes the 1992 Control of Dogs Order, probably giving this outdated bill no more thought.

This dog control order has John Selwyn Gummer’s name on it, he was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at the time, he’s the bloke famous for feeding his four year old daughter beef to prove the cows weren’t mad.

Before we go any further, do note that this is just one of many laws, local bylaws, acts – call them what you want – there are many designed to protect dogs from irresponsible owners and to protect the rest of us too. All a good thing of course. However, this ‘order’ is the one all dog ID tag people turn to.

We don’t.

1992 Control of Dogs Order Furious Cow
1992 Dog Control Order is Out of Date

What’s right about the 1992 Control of Dogs Order?

Dogs have to have a collar on for their own and everyone else’s safety. No one could really argue convincingly against this. The few prosecutions under the Control of Dogs Order have indeed involved dogs left to roam a town without a collar or name tag. Retrieving these dogs, caring for them and tracking down their careless owners has costs associated with it and fines were rightly issued.

However, this is extremely rare. Most prosecutions involving dogs you’ll read about will involve other laws: Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and more.

What’s wrong about the Control of Dogs Order?

Everything else. Its dated advice is to ‘wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it.‘ Who does that serve? How useful is it to have your address on your dog ID tag?

What’s someone going to do if they find your dog after he or she has run off after an imaginary deer and all they have is your address? Send you a postcard?

We often head from Hertfordshire, 100 miles south to Eastbourne to visit family. We walk Lulu, our New Zealand Huntaway, on the downs. She stays with us, but if she did get lost and only had our name and address on her tag, I am sure a kindly local would sort her out.

Maybe they’d make her a sandwich and put her on the train to Victoria Now remember Lulu, you have to change trains at Haywards Heath. They could attach a note to her collar asking anyone at the London end to help make sure she gets on the right tube to St Pancras.

She’s a clever girl and would surely make it to St Albans without any trouble. 


St Albans City Station

I trained Lulu to sit in the middle of the station and wait for Mrs Tagmaster for as long as 10 minutes, which means several packed commuter trains unload past her. I hide out of sight, watching to see how many pats on the noggin she gets. It’s usually several.

The 1992 Control of Dogs Order is not about helping you retrieve your lost dog

If you study the Order (it’s only short) it’s immediately clear who it’s there to protect and serve and it’s not you. 

Here’s who is excluded from the order:

  • Packs of hounds
  • Any dogs used in sport (I don’t want to think about what sports these are)
  • Sheepdogs
  • Dogs used for capturing vermin

Additionally, guide dogs and other working dogs are excluded. Those four groups are at the top though, listed a, b, c, d on the order. 

The order states ‘wear a collar with the name and address of the owner…’ for one purpose only: So you can be found and fined should your dog stray and do any damage. 

The Motorola International 3200

Yes, that would have been your mobile phone in 1992. That’s when the average salary in the UK was circa £14,000 (the 3200 cost £762).

Whitney Houston was in the charts with I Will Always Love You. It’s the year Marlene Dietrich died. British Steel still existed, there were still deep coal mines. It’s the year Her Majesty declared Annus Horribilis.

Wake up and smell the programme

We’re all responsible dog owners who keep our dogs under control. We care for the environment whether we’re in the town or country. We keep our dogs right away from livestock of any sort and under no circumstances would any of us allow our dog to wander about on its own accord. 

We have our dog’s name clearly on her tag. I have my mobile number on it too, just as clearly. Nothing else. I want my number and Lulu’s name to be clear as possible, then whoever finds her if she gets lost in the woods at Nomansland (near St Albans) I want it to be as easy as possible for whoever she wanders up to to give her a pat on the bonce and me a call so I can go and get her (it’s happened a few times).

Some people don’t want their dog’s name on the tag, fearing a Fagan-like dog whispering thief is lurking, waiting to entice their dog away. Not funny and absolutely understandable why people do this, but dog theft is rare. Media reports of it being on the increase fail to point out that the thefts are often litters of puppies from breeders that are then sold on. 

Complying with the outdated and not fit for purpose Control of Dogs Order is fine of course and we’re happy to make dog name tags for people who wish to do so. I just hope their dog doesn’t get lost as it could be that much harder for them to be reunited with it. 

The 1992 Control of Dogs Order needs updating so that it acknowledges the fact that, since 2016 every dog is Microchipped with its owner’s information and every dog owner has a mobile phone.

Let’s make 2020 the year the 1992 Control of Dogs Order is updated!

Ahem, okay 2020 isn’t going as planned, we have a few other things on our plate, let’s just let this one lie for now, but let’s STOP thinking this ancient 1992 Control Order is something that – if you don’t put your name and address on your dog’s tag – will result in a police officer visiting you. It absolutely will not.

This following passage is written into the Control Order, but our dog tag flogging friends don’t tend to mention it:

5.—(1) This Order shall be executed and enforced by the officers of a local authority (and NOT BY THE POLICE FORCE for any area).

(okay I added the bold and upper case bit to emphasize what they DON’T tell you)

Here’s the source for you:




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