Microchipping, stray and lost dogs

Information on what to do if you lose or find a dog

In 1992 it was made a legal requirement that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag. And although there is no legal requirement for a dog to have a collar and tag on private property, however every year hundreds of dogs go missing from homes and gardens.

Stray dogs

If you find a stray dog in North Devon district during office hours, please either return the dog to its owner - or contact us on 01271 388870.

If it is outside of office hours - and you cannot hold the dog until the office reopens - please contact our emergency out of hours service on 01271 388240.

Report a stray or lost dog to us

Lost dogs

If you have lost your dog, please phone us (during office hours on 01271 388870, or on 01271 388240 out of hours) - to see if the dog has been picked up by our dog warden. We post pictures of lost dogs on our Facebook page, so it's worth checking there too.

Please be aware, that once we have found the owner of a dog, the owner may be liable for fines, fees and charges – including : 

  • statutory fine - £25
  • administration charge - £6 plus VAT
  • boarding (for each period of 24 hours or part there of) - £20
  • any required veterinary costs, for example if the dog is injured
  • other relevant fee


In April 2016, it became compulsory for every dog to have an up-to-date microchip.

A microchip is a small electronic chip, around the size of a grain of rice, which is implanted under the dog's skin and contains a unique number that can be read by a scanner. The dog owner's contact details relating to each number are logged on a central database, so should the dog ever go missing or be stolen it can be scanned by the authorities and returned to his owner swiftly and safely.

Dogs over eight weeks old must be microchipped and the details must be kept up to date. You can be fined up to £500 if your dog isn't microchipped. You can find lots of information about microchipping on the GOV.UK website.

Dogs in public places must also wear a collar and tag (Control of Dogs Order 1992), so that the owner can be found if it is lost or stray.

Microchip downloadable posters

Watch our video to find out more.

Every year, thousands of stray dogs are unable to be reunited with their owners because their tag and chip details are not up to date. So, if you move to a new house or change your phone number, make updating the details on your dog’s tag and chip a number one priority. It is also a legal requirement to keep these details up to date. If your details are not correct you could face a fine.

It’s simple to update the details for your dog’s microchip: you can do it online, by telephone or by post, depending on which database your chip is registered to. Charges for updating your chip details vary across the microchip databases. If you aren’t sure who your chip details are registered with, you can call any of the companies listed on our below and they will be able to tell you which company you need to contact:

UK Microchip Databases

Top tips for dog owners

  1. Make sure your dog is microchipped - record the number and database name somewhere safe
  2. Remember to update the database when your contact details change
  3. Ensure your dog wears a collar and tag in public - postcode and phone number, not the name of the dog
  4. Avoid leaving your dog tied up and unattended in public areas
  5. Avoid letting your dog out unaccompanied
  6. Ensure your garden and other areas are properly enclosed 
  7. Be aware of things that could 'spook' or scare your dog when off the lead
  8. Report your dog lost soon as you know
  9. Send us a photo and microchip number of your lost dog
  10. Consider posting the loss on social media 

Only use government approved microchip databases. You can be fined up to £500 if your dog is registered on a database that isn't recognised by the government. A list of the approved suppliers is on GOV.UK.