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If you should find a stray

The borough council's new dog collection service will come into operation on Friday, April 1 and finders of strays can contact the council during its normal opening hours on 01205 314200, and on 01205 362151 at all other times.

The finder of a stray dog is legally responsible for it and must either return the animal to its owner, if they know where they live, keep it safe until it can be collected by the council, or keep the dog with a view to permanently looking after it.

At weekends dogs can be taken by the finder, by prior arrangement, to the council's holding kennels between 9am and 5pm, call 01205 362151.

If you wish to keep a stray you must inform the council, which will need to check that you are a fit and proper person to keep a dog. If the legal owner of the dog requests its return you may have to hand it back.

From Wednesday, April 6, all dogs must, by law, be microchipped and their details stored on a national database. There will be a fine of up to £500 for the owners of any dogs not microchipped after this date.

All dogs in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address or phone number of the owners inscribed on it or on a plate or badge attached to it. This will make return of stray dogs to their rightful owners much easier.