MILLIONS of pet lovers risk prison because they are not aware they are breaking our animal laws, Paws & Claws can reveal.
Out-of-control pooches, banned breeds and letting your four-legged friend sit in the passenger seat of your car while you drive can land owners in serious trouble.
Getty – Contributor Dog owners could face big fines for letting their pooch accompany them in the front while driving
The law says it is illegal to have a dog off the lead near to a main road and if your moggy rips up the neighbour’s prized flower beds, it is the owner’s responsibility to pay for the damage done.
Some more exotic animals require a licence — including snakes, spiders, hybrid cats and wolfdogs — and they become the owner’s responsibility immediately after purchase. Some wild birds such as an eagle or a peregrine falcon must be registered.
The country’s pet population was an estimated 51million last year — and around 45 per cent of UK homes have a domesticated animal.
Owners are at risk of prosecution if they buy, sell, breed or abandon a banned dog. Police can seize a dog even if it does not appear dangerous and has never bitten someone. Owners face a potentially unlimited fine and up to six months in jail.
Earlier this year, a couple whose dog kept their neighbours awake with “continuous” barking were given a conditional discharge for three months.
Neighbours in Cardiff complained about Linda Hill and Jason Badham’s Jack Russell terrier.
Cardiff Council recorded 1,350 barks from the yappy dog in a 45-minute period — one bark every two seconds or so.
James Farrell, a criminal defence lawyer at Slater and Gordon, told Paws & Claws: “Most people simply don’t realise there are strict laws detailing what pet owners can and can’t do.
“Breaking them can lead to jail sentences and big fines. But ignorance of the law is no excuse.
“So pet owners are leaving themselves open to arrest and prosecution if they are found to have breached the rules.”
Star of the weekTERRIER cross Otter’s unruly behaviour in puppy training classes gave his owner Rasa Ziema the idea to invent an app to help others in the same boat.
After Otter went to four training schools without success, Rasa created Dogo, so owners could teach their pets at home.
It is now used worldwide by 30,000 people who teach their dogs commands and tricks for £7 a month.
Dogs take a series of tests and the owner uses a clicker built into the app to signal their pet has got it right.
Cues include responding to their name, sitting and staying, twirling, spinning, jumping and giving a high paw. Owners send in videos of their dogs and a team of vets say if it’s a pass or fail.
Rasa, 29, said: “Otter is now so well behaved and it’s amazing that the lessons we learned with him are helping other dogs and owners all over the world.”
Sean McCormack, head vet at tailored food firm tails.com, is on a mission to help the nation’s pets.
Kenneth Clarke, 65, from Coventry, has a deaf border collie called Tia who is ten and loves being in the car but gets distressed when it is moving, pacing from side to side in the boot and licking the rear window.
Tia is deaf and loves accompanying her owner Kenneth on car journeys
Kenneth says: “It’s awful. I can hear and see her in the rear-view mirror. I tried putting her on a lead and in a cage but nothing works.”
Sean says: “It helps to go back to basics, turning the car into a place with positive associations. Start by inviting her into the car, switched off, on the drive. Give her treats and praise for getting in and out.
“As she can’t hear, focus on non-verbal rewards. Over time, gradually go through the motions of going on a journey, starting the car but not moving and getting out again, praising her with a gentle pat and food reward for calm behaviour.
“Do a journey around the block, avoiding eye contact or acting anxiously yourself if you see her anxious.
She will pick up on this.
Lots of gentle praise and reward-based training should help him associate other dogs with play and pleasant times
Increase the distance over time and reward only when she is calm. If her anxiety rises, go back a step and build on progress slowly. She should start to look forward to a trip and act more calmly.
A calming Adaptil pheromone collar or spray in the car may help.”
Meanwhile, Romy Turnbull is five and her six-year-old Dachshund Philip loves chasing balls but if there are other dogs in the park he just stops playing.
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Sean says: “Dachshunds are bags of energy, and very alert to their surroundings.
“He may just be more interested in other dogs than playing ball. It’s hard to say without seeing how he reacts if he’s fearful, but that is a possibility.
“Taking him on a few dates with friends’ or family dogs may help him get over the novelty value of other dogs around. Lots of gentle praise and reward-based training should help him associate other dogs with play and pleasant times.”
WIN a designer leather collar
HERE’S your chance to let your dog cut a dash, in a designer leather collar from luxury pet accessories company Dogatella London.
It is giving away four of its fashionable collars to Paws & Claws readers.
Choose a colour at dogatella.com and enter with your choice by emailing email@example.com with DOGATELLA as the subject.
For T&Cs see thesun.co.uk/dogatella.
SEND your questions for the Pet Vet to firstname.lastname@example.org
Paws and Claws are offering yoga sessions with puppies and kittens so you can get your workout in while having a cuddle