Return of the dog licence?

Most dog owners of a certain age can remember having to buy dog licences for each of their pets, or pay the ‘dog tax’ as it was also known. The original dog licence cost just 37p and was abolished way back in 1987, largely due to the fact that only around 50% of dog owners actually bought one.

However, in these days of financial hardship and tough talking budgets, the notion of taxing a whole new sector of society could prove too tempting to ignore. The dog licence could be about to return, and it won’t be the nominal 37p of the mid eighties either. Backed by the RSPCA, motions are underway to reintroduce a dog licence to the UK at a proposed cost of between £20 and £30 per year. The RSPCA believes that by introducing a dog licence it would help to raise over £100 million each year and would stop irresponsible dog owners from using their dogs as weapons of status.

old man and dogThe RSPCA has already conducted research into bringing back the dog licence and it claims that two thirds of dog owners are more than happy to pay a fee of over £30 per year for their dog… per dog! Although the RSPCA adds that this cost is roughly between 3% and 4% of the cost of owning a dog for a year, so doesn’t represent much of an expense.

The RSPCA added that if a dog licence were re-introduced at a cost of £21.50, and if only half of the dog owners in the UK paid for one, the licence would raise an additional £107.4 million that could be used to help the welfare of dogs. The RSPCA’s report suggests that a new scheme be started by the government that would help strays, disease prevention and treating people bitten by dogs. Dog control laws could also be enforced with the added funds created by a dog licence.

The UK has a reported 10 million dogs at present, and all would require licences under these new proposals.

The RSPCA also suggests that pensioners receive a discount on their dog licence, that discounts are offered for selected dogs (presumably smaller dogs) and discounts for dogs that have been neutered. Some of the money should also help pay for a nationwide database of dogs, with every dog being microchipped.

David Bowles, from the RSPCA, commented:

“A dog licence would raise money which could be targeted into improving enforcement of laws at a local level, improve the welfare of dogs and reverse the use of certain breeds of dog as a status symbol or weapon.”

“The dog licence would achieve three important goals. It would raise money for dog welfare, increase the numbers of responsible dog owners by getting people to think before they get a dog and start to reverse the surplus of dogs on the market by providing incentives such as reduced fees for neutering dogs.”

Of course the big worry is simple. If families are ordered to pay for a dog licence costing upwards of £30 per year, how many dogs would simply be cast out onto the street due to their owners being unwilling, or unable, to pay for the licence?

Would you be happy to pay for a dog licence for your dog?



  • Never mind the RSPCA and their rubbish…how do they think this will stop Status dogs, back street breeding and puppy farms? These people can’t be controlled by the Law, never mind the licence! As both Dogs Trust and the Blue Cross are against the licence, you have to wonder why the RSPCA are so keen…are they going to oversee it? Because if they are, they will have the details of every responsible dog owner in the country. How many raids will take place with that information under their belts I wonder?
    Sorry, but for the first time in my life, I will flout the law and refuse to buy a licence, and so will hundreds of others if the RSPCA are involved.

  • Personally, I wouldn’t mind spending £20 per year on a license on a couple of conditions:

    a) the money was spent in the right way, e.g. there are lots of stray dogs near me that bother my dog and I when we’re out walking and nobody does anything about it. I’m not sure that will change if a license is introduced though – I imagine there’ll be more stray dogs at first as people abandon their dogs or pretend they aren’t theirs

    b) the cost doesn’t inflate as ridiculous proportions each year because surprise surprise lots of dog owners aren’t paying the fee

    If someone could honestly say precisely how the money would be spent and proportioned in each area then I might be for it – but I don’t think it’s been properly planned or discussed with the general public, so I’m against it

  • 1. the RSPCA are corrupt and are only doing this for their own ends. They say 70% of the british public want this back….RUBBISH! Where is your proof? I havent been asked? And check the poll on here…at present over 80% say NO!
    2. And what of the homeless and poor who’s only friend and companion may be there beloved dog?
    3. Do you really think the people who are irresponsible will buy a bloody dog licence?!!! Of course they wont!
    4. If the RSPCA have ANYTHING to do with this…I will NOT be buying a licence for my 2 dogs. I refuse to line the pockets of greedy scum.

  • The rSPCA only want licences to help them become the animal police force.They no longer help animal they just kill them in a most cruel way…They are the richest charity in the UK but you try and get help from them for a sick or injured soon as your back is turned they will just kill it….the ONLY WAY IS TO CONTROL DOG BREEDING…

  • I think the principle of paying for a dog license will annoy people more than the amount of money involved.

    On one hand, I can see where the re-introduction of the license would be a good thing. It may deter some irresponsible people from owning a dog, and if the money raised goes towards disease prevention and dog control laws that’s fair enough. The majority of dogs are kept as pets, and as a whole we have a duty of care towards them.

    However, I can’t help but feel that this is taxing the people who will be honest enough to pay it. In a society where some people pride themselves on having an ASBO, not having a license will just be another ‘scout badge’ to earn. It may also result in many dogs being abandoned.

  • Just another money making scheme from the RSPCA! Tired of their lies, their claims that they have a ‘no kill’ policy and then blatantly euthanising animals that don’t fit into THEIR rehoming criteria. How long before their captive bolt gun re-emerges?

    No, I will NOT be buying a dog licence to fund their cruelty and greed! This idea wont work, as has been said above, only true animal lovers will buy them and the idea is totally unenforceable.

  • Another hairbrain idea of the rspca. Just cannot see the reasoning that a licence will control status and aggressive dogs. Shudder to think of a situation where the rspca hold a data base on all the dog owners in the uk. Add another description to this `charity´ KGB.

  • Please, please fight against the dog licence it all looks good on the surface but how many more dogs will end up in rehoming centres because people cant or wont pay. How many dogs will end up being hidden away in backyards and not taken to the vet scared because they havnt got a licence. Read Faith Animal Rescues discussion on facebook

  • Firstly, I agree with Alex Smith. The RSPCA lost credibility as an organisation when it started using bolt guns to put down healthy dogs and mindlessly put down dogs who had been assured of quality of life and a good standard of welfare by a deceased owners will.
    Secondly, the dog license should be a one off test of the owner – much like a driving license. The test should be simple, but sufficient proof in law that the dog owner knows their obligations towards both dogs and the public at the time of obtaining their license; e.g. You must provide appropriate food and shelter. You must keep your dog under control in public spaces. You must clear up your dog’s mess. More test questions could be added. In short, obtaining a dog license should be a legal undertaking to observe the criteria by which the individual gained the license by giving the correct answers to test questions such as those described above. If a dog license owner fails to uphold the conditions under which the license has been granted, the license should act as proof that they understood their obligations and therefore broke the law. In appropriate cases, the license should be revoked and they should be prosecuted accordingly.
    Thirdly, the dog license holder should have to enter the microchip details of all dogs in their ownership. In addition, they should have to enter the name and details of any other person who may walk the dogs on their behalf and assume all legal responsibility for any breaches of the terms of their license whilst the dogs are in the care of the named individual. Named individuals should include, spouses, children, friends, etc. Allowing a non-named individual to walk their dog should be a fineable offence.
    Lastly, the license should be a one off test with the money going into an interest bearing account to accumulate. New generations of dog owners will insure that the account grows with time and that the capital, and therefore interest, increases. The capital should be left untouched.
    The current proposal is nothing more that a cynical effort by the RSPCA to further swell their coffers. It does absolutely nothing to guarantee the welfare of dogs or members of the public.

  • What is with the RSPCA wanting to neuter dogs. We had a very hansom young Lab of them dog that quite a few other owners have breed off and guess what part of the T&Cs of adoption where…

    I am pro Licence but the figure above should be for a lifetime (of the dog) and come with chipping included.

    Compulsory chipping would help highlight irresponsible owners and breeders esp if the vet had to do it before the dog could be sold. Untagged dogs should be tagged if they pass through a shelter.

    The dog licence/chip number should be treated in the same manor as a car registration plate and only the Police and insurance companies have access to the information. (Mechanics can sometimes access data on cars so maybe add vets to this)

    Any dog licence is not worth the paper it is written on if there is no comeback for not having one. So the Stick/carrot approach needs to be followed.

    As for the RCPCA trying to be the Animal police perhaps the government needs to clip there wings a bit by allowing other animal charities to carry forward cruelty prosecutions.

  • Good points Paul!

    The story of the Lab is one familiar to me. I had to have our two adopted dogs neutered as part of the conditions of the Dog’s Home. I had no problem with that as despite one of them being a former Crufts champion I had no intention of breeding.

    I think the dog’s home neutering policy is basically there to prevent the spread of unwanted dogs by unscrupulous breeders. Let’s face it, many breeders interest in their dogs stops the moment they get paid.

    I’d like to see measures brought in that make breeders more responsible for their dogs. That means that they should pay an amount of the sale price of a dog into trust to support its future welfare. If the dog is returned (see next paragraph), they can claim from the trust.

    By this I mean the breedres should be required to form a legal agreement with a buyer of one of their dogs that said owner is obliged, by law, to return them the dog should they face circumstances where they have to rehome the dog. Naturally if a good alternative home exists and the breeder approves this should be no problem.

    Caring breeders wouldn’t have any objection to contributing to the welfare and security of their dogs. Those that have a problem with these obligations should not be breeding.

    All the best,


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