Animal welfare & dog control

Here you will find guidance on reporting domestic animal welfare issues, stray dogs, controlling dogs and reporting dog mess in public places.

This information was last updated on 4 August 2023

As outbreaks of Avian Flu continue in wild birds across Northumberland, the county council’s public protection team is issuing a reminder to the public not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds. 
There have been a number of recent reports of dead wild birds in several areas of Northumberland . The cause of death of some of the birds, has been confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as Avian Flu.   Although the risk to public health is very low, it is a highly contagious virus that can rapidly spread between wild birds and commercial flocks with devastating consequences.  If a member of the public comes across a dead wild bird, they are asked to report it to DEFRA on 03459 335577.(option 7) DEFRA will investigate and decide if they need to collect samples for recording, testing and analysis. Providing good location information for a dead or diseased bird is particularly important and location apps such as 'what3words', references can be very helpful.     
To report dead wild birds for removal on public land call the county council customer services on 0345 600 6400. We will respond to arrange collection from public land or where appropriate, our teams will inform the landowner to arrange removal when dead birds are located on private land.   Landowners should also seek advice about their obligation to arrange compliant collection and disposal of dead birds affected by Avian Influenza.  For more information go to      
On a reassuring note, Public Health England have said the risk to the public is extremely low and that it is safe to continue eating properly cooked poultry and eggs, if you choose to do so, as normal. 
For further advice  
  • If you keep captive birds such as poultry, including as pets, and you suspect avian influenza you must report this to DEFRA on 0300 0200301.  
  • Full guidance covering biosecurity requirements and other useful information about avian influenza, including the main clinical signs to look out for, can be found on Bird keepers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these details 
We look after issues connected with the welfare of companion animals or pets.

This is not to be used for reporting problems with wild animals such as birds, rodents, foxes, etc. There are various organisations, such as the RSPB and the RSPCA, which can help in these cases. 

Our dedicated enforcement officer can deal with horses illegally tethered or straying on public authority land. However, horses running loose or causing a nuisance should be reported to the police.  

Although unsightly, horse waste isn’t toxic and so we are unable to remove it. However, if you feel excessive horse waste is a problem in your area, please contact us and we may be able to speak to the horse’s owner.  

Information regarding Northumberland County Council's Public Spaces Protection Order for the control of dogs.

County Council (Dog Control) Public Spaces Protection Order. 
This protection order has been made and will be in force from 31 January 2020. 
Click here for the notice for extending the Public Spaces Protection Order by three years.

Click here to read the full notice of the making of the Public Spaces Protection Order. 
Click here to read the Northumberland County Council (Dog Control) Public Spaces Protection Order for the control of Dogs.

Northumberland is a beautiful place for residents and visitors to walk their dogs and the Green Dog Walker Scheme aims to keep it this way.

We believe it should be socially unacceptable to fail to clean up after your dog and that you should leave only pawprints which is why we’re encouraging residents to become a Green Dog Walker. 

When you join as a Green Dog Walker, you’ll receive: 

  •  Free poop bags for you and to give to other dog walkers. 
  •  A green dog walker badge to encourage other dog walkers to talk to you about the scheme. 
  • Leaflets to hand out to dog walkers, encouraging them to also take the Green Dog Walker pledge. 
The Northumberland County Council Green Dog Walker scheme is only open to residents of Northumberland. 

The Pledge

I hereby volunteer to accept a Green Dog Walkers ® badge and pledge to take part in the campaign as follows: 
1. I will wear the badge as often as possible when walking my dog(s). 
2. I will at all times clean up after my dog and dispose of the bag in a bin. 
3. When others walk my dog I will encourage them to clean up after my dog. 
4. I understand that wearing the badge indicates that I will carry extra doggie bags to distribute to other dog walkers if requested. 
5. At no time when wearing the badge will I aggressively confront other dog walkers about dog fouling. I fully understand that Green Dog Walkers® is intended to be a non-confrontational and friendly campaign to change attitudes about dog fouling. 
6. I agree that Green Dog Walkers® may contact me to take part in questionnaires or surveys regarding my Green Dog Walker® experience, to help judge the success of the project. 

Sign up here 

Once your pack has arrived you can take the letter or badge to your local library to get replacement bags, find your nearest library by clicking here.

Want to read more about the Green Dog Walker Pledge? 
Download our leafllet 
Want to read more about how individuals and groups can help? 
Download our helpful guide 
If you want to sign up as a green dog walker online? 
Complete pledge online 
 For further information please contact us by emailing: 

Information on walking your dog in public spaces and on beaches

Following the introduction of the Northumberland County Council (Dog Control) Public Spaces Protection Order of 2020, throughout Northumberland dogs are not allowed in 

  1.  All enclosed children’s play areas at any time of the year. 
  2. The section of beach at Newbiggin by the Sea from the breakwater at Church Point to the beach access from the promenade at Sidney Crescent, between 1st May to 30th September each year. 
  3. The section of beach at Blyth from the beach access at Beachway to the beach access at the southern end of the Links Road car park, between 1st May to 30th September each year.

To view the public spaces protection order, click here. 

Click here to read the full notice of the making of the Public Spaces Protection Order

The safest way to take your dog out in public is using a lead. It is the dog walker's responsibility to ensure that a dog(s) is under control at all times and is not a risk to public safety. More information is available at 
You must always keep your dog on a lead when visiting memorial grounds, cemeteries or gardens of remembrance anywhere in Northumberland and on any land classified as an ‘A’ or ‘B’ road, together with adjoining verges etc. 
It is an offence not to put and keep your dog on a lead at any time, in any public place if a council official asks you to do so in the interest of public safety. 
Leads should be no more than 1.5m in length. 
You must immediately pick up after your dog if it fouls 
It is an offence to allow your dog to foul land without immediately picking up. This applies to any land in Northumberland which is open to the air and to which the public are entitled or permitted to access (with or without payment). 
The fixed notice penalty for any offence committed against the Northumberland County Council (Dog Control) Public Spaces Protection Order is £100 (£80 if paid within 7 days), to be paid in 14 days. If it isn’t paid the Council would normally prosecute the offender in a magistrates' court which could result in a fine of up to £1000. 
To view a copy of the above order please click here. 

Please note that Schedule One of the Order will not apply in respect of a dog trained by a prescribed charity and/or upon which a person relies on for assistance. 

Click here to read the full notice of the making of the Public Spaces Protection Order

It’s an offence not to clean up after your dog. Dog mess is a problem affecting footpaths, playing fields, parks and other public places. Find out more and report dog fouling here.

All complaints we receive about dog mess are properly investigated. 
Although it is not essential to provide your details when you report dog mess, the action we can take if you don’t is limited. All information we receive is treated with the strictest confidentiality and simply leaving the following details significantly increase the chances of us resolving your complaint: 

  • Type and description of dog together with description on offender. 
  • Time, location and frequency of alleged offence. 
  • Your details for feedback. 

We don’t tolerate dog fouling in Northumberland. If you own a dog and it makes a mess, you clean it up. Failing to pick up after your pet is antisocial, dirty and spreads diseases like toxicariasis, which is of risk to children and can cause blindness. Yet it continues to be a problem, and one we take very seriously. 
If you’re found to have not cleaned up your dog’s mess, you will be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £100. 

If payment is not received within 14 days you will be prosecuted. Offenders face a court appearance, with a maximum penalty of £1,000. Claiming ignorance of the dog's actions is not a valid defence. Registered blind dog owners are exempt from any fines. 

We target hotspot areas identified by the public and carry out early morning, evening and weekend patrols if necessary. We’ve also trained more officers to enforce dog control orders and issue fines. 
We work hard to make sure the bins provided for dog mess are well maintained and emptied regularly. 

This section tells you how to report a stray animal and reclaim a lost animal.

When reporting a lost/stray animal, please consider the following so the correct action can be taken. 

  • A lost animal is an animal you have lost. 
  • A stray animal is any dog in a public place that isn't with the owner. Stray dogs can cause many problems, so don't let your dog roam alone. It’s illegal for dogs to appear in public without a collar and identity tag. You can also report concerns for other animals you believe to be straying and an officer will contact you to discuss. 
All stray dogs are kept in kennels for seven days so the owner can claim them. After seven days, stray dogs are put up for re-homing. 
If your dog has gone missing, contact Northumberland County Council on 0345 6006400 or use one of our local numbers, and we’ll contact the dog warden on your behalf. 
To reclaim a dog, the owner will be required to pay a release fee for the cost of kennelling and any outstanding costs, such as vet’s fees. The owners of dogs with some form of identification will be notified as soon as is practicable. 

During normal office hours 
If you see or are in possession of a stray dog during office hours and you are not able to locate the owner, contact Northumberland County Council on 0345 600 6400 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am and 4.30pm on Fridays. A dog warden will come and collect the dog. 
Alternatively, you can contact the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter on 0191 2150435. They accept dogs found by members of the public between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. Their address is Benton Lane, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE12 8EH. 
Animal welfare out-of-hours service  
If you are in possession of a stray dog outside office hours and can’t return the dog to its owner, we will arrange for the dog to be collected using our out-of-hours service. Call us on 0345 6006400, as online forms are only picked up during normal working hours. Times for our out-of-hours service are listed below. 

  • 5pm to 10pm, Monday to Thursday 
  • 4.30pm to 10pm, Friday 
  • 8am to 10pm, Saturday/Sunday 
  • 8am to 8pm, bank holidays 

Outside the above hours you can: 

  • Take the dog to Moorview Referrals, Northumberland Business Park West, Cramlington, NE23 7RH. Telephone 0191 338 8890.  
  • Keep the dog until the next working day and then contact us 

Aggressive, frightened or nervous strays 
Do not attempt to secure or restrain any stray dog if it shows any signs of being aggressive, frightened or nervous. 

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. Our dog wardens enforce this law, and fines of up to £5,000 can be given by the courts for an offence. 
Most importantly, you’re far less likely to retrieve your dog if it goes missing and isn’t wearing a collar and tag, even if it’s microchipped. 

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. Our dog wardens enforce this law, and fines of up to £5,000 can be given by the courts for an offence. 
Most importantly, you’re far less likely to retrieve your dog if it goes missing and isn’t wearing a collar and tag, even if it’s microchipped. 

Report a dog offence here


The council no longer provides neutering vouchers of any kind. 

Unfortunately, we no longer provide this service for new dogs. 
However, we will continue to return lost dogs previously tagged and registered through this scheme, and we’ll update your details on our database if you keep us informed too. 
This section gives you information about controlling your dog, avoiding nuisance caused by poor animal behaviour and reporting noisy dogs.

While perfectly normal, the constant barking or whining of a dog can be disturbing and annoying for neighbours. 
Often the problem occurs when the dog’s owner is out of the house, and they have no idea until someone complains. Before you report it to the council, highlight the problem to your neighbour and give them a chance to resolve the issues. 
If a complaint is made to the council, we will investigate and consider the volume, duration and time of the barking. 

We will assess: 

  • The frequency in the barking events. 
  • How long the barking goes on for. 
  • At what time of the day or night the barking occurs. 
  • The severity experienced in the complainant's property.  

We may serve a noise abatement notice and, if the barking continues, the owner could be taken to court and fined. 


Dogs are not by nature solitary animals. They need the security of a family group and can soon become distressed if left alone. 
Get your dog used to the idea you are away for different periods at different times of the day, and don’t make a fuss of them when you leave. 
For more advice and tips on how to control noisy dogs, download The Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs guide – Is your dog barking too much? 


Contact us about animal welfare and dog control:

Animal Welfare
Public Protection Service
Northumberland County Council
Stakeford Depot
East View
Northumberland, NE62 5TR

Phone: 0345 600 6400