NI dog owners facing thousands in fines for unlicensed dogs
Government data analysed by CompareNI.com shows that dog owners in Northern Ireland have been penalised for thousands of pounds for animal related offences.
Recent government data analysed by CompareNI.com shows that there were 473 fixed penalty notices given to dog owners across the 11 different councils in just three short months, between April and June 2023, totalling £13,500.*
A fixed penalty notice (FPN) is a notice giving an individual the opportunity to be made immune from prosecution for an alleged criminal offence in exchange for a fee, where the default level for a fixed penalty is £75, although a council may set its own level between £50 to £80 and allow a discount for early payment.
The most fixed penalty notices for dog owners were given for unlicensed dogs, with 301 fixed penalty notices given for this offence. Keeping a dog without a valid licence could even lead to fines of up to £1000, a warning or a formal caution.
Mid and East Antrim recorded the highest levels of unlicensed dogs with 200 fixed penalty notices given of the total 301 issued across Northern Ireland. This is considerably larger than the next highest number of 40 fixed penalty notices in Derry City and Strabane District Council. Belfast City Council had the next highest with 20.
Fixed penalty notices were also handed out for other offences across the different councils such as failure to comply with control conditions and straying. Straying was the next highest offence with 153 fixed penalty notices given during the same three-month period. Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon saw the most fixed penalty notices for straying with 58, while Belfast City Council had 38 and Derry City and Strabane had 20.
A straying dog is considered as unaccompanied or off the land owned or belonging to the owner and can see fines of up to £200.
In total £13,500 was paid in fixed penalty notices across the 11 councils with the most coming from the Mid and East Antrim District Council, with dog owners fined £7,390 in total for fixed penalty notices – significantly more than the second highest on the list, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon with £2,110.
In the same period, there were 272 attacks on people by dogs, with 61 of these attacks being considered for prosecution. 2176 dog owners currently have control conditions attached to their licence, such as fitted with a muzzle, under control in a public place and confinement to a building, yard or a specified placed.* Nearly a hundred (98) new dogs were added to the list for control conditions from June – April this year.
In Northern Ireland, all dogs must also be microchipped at eight weeks old. Dogs must also be microchipped before an owner applies for a dog licence or the licence will not be valid. All dogs must have a valid licence and wear identification with the name and address of their keeper, either on a tag or engraved on a collar plate – with failure to comply resulting in a maximum fine of £1,000.
Dog owners are also responsible for ensuring that the contact details held against their dog’s microchip number are accurate. If the details are not accurate, their dog licence could be invalid.
Not only does dog licensing, microchipping and identification help return dogs to their owners, it also helps to decrease the growing number of strays on the streets and alleviates the strain that many animal shelters are under.
Additionally, since it is a legal requirement to microchip your dog, most pet insurance providers won’t cover you without it. Also, if you have incorrect information on your insurance, your policy may be invalid when you come to make a claim.
“Many people may not realise that a dog license only lasts 12 months and therefore needs to be renewed annually, this might explain why some people are getting caught without licences.
“Licensing costs just £5 if the dog is sterilised and most councils allow you to complete the form online in a matter of minutes. Collars with contact details are also required and increase the chance of missing pets being reunited with their owners, providing benefits for animal welfare as well as lowering costs for animal shelters.
“The law is there to protect dogs and people alike, if a dog attacks someone, the authorities need to be able to contact the owner urgently.
“Not only will licensing and having identification on your dog help keep them safe, but it will also help avoid hefty fines and make it possible to protect them with a pet insurance policy.”
|Year to date (April 2023 to June 2023)|
|Breakdown of fixed penalties imposed||Dog not licenced||Straying||Failure to comply with control conditions||Other||Total||Fixed Penalty Income|
|ANTRIM AND NEWTOWNABBEY BOROUGH COUNCIL||13||6||1||0||20||£240.00|
|ARDS AND NORTH DOWN BOROUGH COUNCIL||5||10||0||1||16||£740.00|
|ARMAGH, BANBRIDGE AND CRAIGAVON BOROUGH COUNCIL||8||58||3||0||69||£2,110.00|
|BELFAST CITY COUNCIL||20||38||0||2||60||£1,390.00|
|CAUSEWAY COAST AND GLENS BOROUGH COUNCIL||3||2||2||0||7||£180.00|
|DERRY AND STRABANE DISTRICT COUNCIL||40||20||0||2||62||£1,000.00|
|FERMANAGH AND OMAGH DISTRICT COUNCIL||7||0||0||1||8||£100.00|
|LISBURN AND CASTLEREAGH CITY COUNCIL||1||2||0||0||3||£50.00|
|MID AND EAST ANTRIM BOROUGH COUNCIL||200||8||3||0||211||£7,390.00|
|MID ULSTER DISTRICT COUNCIL||0||2||0||0||2||£100.00|
|NEWRY, MOURNE AND DOWN DISTRICT COUNCIL||4||7||4||0||15||£200.00|
This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.