Fox hunting is illegal; trail and drag hunting (where the hunt follows an artificial scent laid out in a trail) is legal. Dogs can be used legally as part of a trail or drag hunt.
There are exemptions under the Hunting Act 2004 which allow for wild animals (including foxes) to be ‘humanely’ killed. Dogs can be legally used to ‘flush’ a fox from cover so it can be shot.
It is an offence to:
engage or participate in the pursuit of a wild animal
use or allow a dog or dogs to pursue a wild animal
knowingly allow land to be entered for the purpose of hunting a fox
hunt foxes with dogs
If you think someone has broken the ban on fox hunting then that's a wildlife crime and you need to let us know by reporting it online.
Animal cruelty is when someone doesn’t care for or deliberately hurts an animal.
It can include anything from physical violence, to deliberate mental distress or neglect, for example not feeding or cleaning an animal.
If you see, or suspect, that a person may be treating an animal badly, whether this is physical violence, neglect or any other form of cruelty, you should report this to the RSPCA’s cruelty line (7am-10pm, seven days a week).
You can contact them on 0300 1234 999. The call will cost the same as any call to a UK landline number.
We work with the RSPCA to investigate cases of animal cruelty.
Dogs out of control in public places
It’s an offence to let a dog be dangerously out of control whether that’s in public or private.
A dog is considered to be out of control if it:
makes someone worried that it might injure them
A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:
it attacks someone’s animal
the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal
Please note, a farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s worrying their livestock.