Dogs - lost and found

Dog owners have a legal duty to prevent any dog from straying, causing injury or damage. Additionally, under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs must wear a collar and identity tag in a public place. The tag must show the owner’s name and address. A telephone number is optional (but strongly advisable). An owner can be fined up to £5,000 if the dog is not wearing identification. Dogs exempt from wearing a collar and ID tag in public include: dogs on official duty for the armed forces, HM Customs and Excise or police; sport dogs and packs of hounds; dogs used for capturing or destroying vermin; dogs used for driving/tending cattle or sheep; guide dogs for the blind; and dogs used for emergency rescue work.

Stray dogsRSPCA Paw Print

During office hours, stray dogs may be taken into the Council’s control under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, when they are handed to the Council by members of the public who have found them, or where the Council collects them from public places. Dogs in the Council’s care are kept in licensed kennels for seven days. After that time, if not reclaimed by an owner, dogs will be sent for re-homing via an animal charity.

Harlow Council have achieved a Silver Footprint Award, as part of the RSCPA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprints Scheme, recognising the work it does in connection with policies and procedures regarding stray dogs.

The Police no longer accept stray dogs brought to them by members of the public.

What to do if you find a lost dog or have lost your dog

If you know who the dog belongs to, you may wish to return it to the owner. The owner’s address or telephone number should be on the dog’s collar and this will help. If you cannot return the dog to its owner or if the stray dog is loose, you can report it to us. The Council will arrange for it to be collected during office hours and put into kennels.

If you have lost your dog you can report it to us and we will check to see if we have a dog matching the description or if it comes into the Council’s control as a stray helping us to contact you quickly.


Alternatively you can report it to Contact Harlow.

How to reclaim your dog if it has been found

If you find that the Council has taken control of your dog, you can reclaim it within seven days if you pay the Council’s fees and kennelling costs, and any vet’s bills for emergency treatment.

Please contact an Advisor at Contact Harlow to arrange to visit and pay the charges before the dog can be released.

What you can do to help as a dog owner

To help ensure your dog does not become lost you can:

  • Maintain fences and gates to stop your dog getting out.
  • Train your dog so that it is under your control at all times.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an ID tag with your name and address (including post code). A telephone number is optional (but strongly advisable).
  • Have your dog microchipped so that you can be contacted, in case it is ever out without its collar.

Animal Welfare Act 2006

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 aims of the Act is to improve the welfare of animals, impose greater responsibility on their owners (whether permanent or temporary), and provide greater investigation and entry powers for police and local authority staff to deal with offences. Under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is the duty of any person responsible for an animal to ensure that its welfare needs are met. These include:

  • The need for a suitable environment.
  • The need for a suitable diet.
  • The need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns.
  • Any need to be housed with or apart from other animals, and
  • The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Other offences under the Act include:

  • The ‘mutilation of animals’, such as the docking of tails (other than for good medical reasons or an animal undergoing veterinary treatments)
  • The selling or giving of a pet as a prize to anyone under 16 years of age