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Dogs: lost and stray

How to deal with lost or stray dogs, unwanted pets, where to turn for issues with dangerous dogs and advice for XL Bully owners.

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Stray dogs

A stray dog is a loose dog without supervision in a public place, or land where it does not have permission to be. This does not include dogs that have been abandoned, i.e. tied up or left at a business or residential premises.

If you find a stray dog, check if it has an identity tag. If it does, contact the owner and arrange for them to collect it.

A stray dog can only be collected once contained, alternatively a stray dog can be taken to our reception centre by appointment. All stray dogs are checked for identification and micro-chips and the council keeps a register of all lost and found dogs to aid reuniting them.

By law, dogs over 8 weeks old must be micro-chipped. The microchip should hold the owner's most up to date contact details in an approved database. If a dog without a microchip is found or reported to us, we will work with the owner to ensure that it is micro chipped as appropriate. 

Reporting a lost dog

Please contact the Council if you find a stray dog and can't contact its owner. We do not recommend using unofficial dog warden services and please be cautious using social media sites. The Police will not accept stray dogs from the public. All stray dogs must be reported to the Council so we can carry out appropriate checks and aid their swift return to their owners.

If you can't find the owner, please call us on 01354 654321. Outside of normal working hours (09:00 - 16:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00 - noon Saturday) it may take longer to speak to someone, but please hold the line and listen to all options carefully. You can also use our online form, but please note this is only monitored during our normal working hours. 

We are able to provide a stray dog collection service during normal office hours. Out of hours we provide a stray dog reception centre, where dogs can be taken to by appointment.

We are only able to respond to stray dogs within the area of Fenland. If you find a stray dog, please report it to the local authority for where the dog has been found. We will only be able to collect dogs from within the Fenland area.

When contacting us, it would help if you could tell us the following information (if known):

  • Where the dog was found straying, and if not on public land, the land owners details,
  • The time and date the dog was found straying,
  • The finders details,
  • The dogs details, including breed, gender, colour of dog and any identifying marks and any identification on dog (e.g collar)
  • The owners details (if known).

Reclaiming a lost dog

To report or reclaim a lost dog, please call us on 01354 654321.  Outside of normal working hours (09:00 - 16:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00 - noon Saturday) it may take longer to speak to someone, but please hold the line and listen to all options carefully. You can also use our online form, but please note this is only monitored during our normal working hours. 

Dogs are kept in kennels for seven days. They will only be returned to its owner once all fees, fines and costs have been paid. These are:

  • a £47 fine
  • £15 admin fee
  • £10 kennelling fee for each day (including part days)
  • Any other essential costs incurred, such as veterinary fees.

If the dog is not claimed within 7 days it will be made available for re-homing to the public. This means it could have a new legal owner.

Abandoned dogs and unwanted pets

The local authority is unable to take abandoned animals or unwanted pets. We recommend you contact the RSPCA who would be able to advise of support that may be available to you.

Dangerous Dogs Act

The police are responsible for investigating and enforcing the Dangerous Dogs Act, please report any related enquiries to Cambridgeshire Police.

Owners of XL Bully dogs

Preparing for the ban on XL Bully dogs guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.

From 31 December 2023 it will be against the law to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog or let it stray
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a Certificate of Exemption. Read keeping an XL Bully dog (GOV.UK) to find out how to get a Certificate of Exemption.

Check if your dog is an XL Bully dog

Use the official definition of an XL Bully dog (GOV.UK) to check if your dog may be an XL Bully. 

Neutering an XL Bully dog

You must arrange to have your XL Bully dog neutered through castration in the case of a male dog, or through spaying in the case of a female dog. If your dog is:

  • less than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024
  • older than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024

Giving up an XL Bully dog to be euthanised

If you choose not to keep your XL Bully dog, you should take it to be euthanised at a registered vet practice by 31 January 2024.

You can claim £200 compensation towards the costs. You and your vet will need to fill in a compensation form to make a claim (GOV.UK). You must apply by 15 March 2024.

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