Are dogs allowed at polling stations for the local elections?

A dog standing on grass in front of a polling station sign in Manchester
A dog standing outside a polling station in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

For much of the country who are registered to vote , the time to cast their ballot in the local elections has arrived.

A happy side-effect of votes these days is that they also become a time to enjoy some first rate pictures of dogs at polling stations, as many voters take some very, ahem, fetching snaps of their four-legged pals before outside the building where they’re due to vote .

Case in point, #dogsatpollingstations is already trending on Twitter, and when you look at how cute some of these snaps are, it’s easy to see why.

But one thing that these pics all seem to have in common is that they’re taken outside of the polling station, which has left some of us wondering: Are you allowed to actually take your dog inside the polling station while you vote in the local elections ?

Are dogs allowed inside polling stations?

If the building being used as your polling station and the voting officers there permit it, then yes, you’ll be able to bring your dog into the polling station with you while you vote.

However, if the building that’s being used doesn’t usually allow dogs, then don’t expect that policy to change on voting day.

The cheese will melt just enough to stick to the inside of the Kong.

It’s that time of the year again #dogsatpollingstations

— Buddy Storey (@BuddyPortsmouth)

If your dog is allowed in, then you and your canine buddy have some rules to follow.

Your dog must be kept on a lead the whole time, and they can’t be seen as disrupting the vote.

If you’re finding it difficult to vote and manage your dog(s) at the same time, you can ask a member of staff at the polling station to hold the lead.

It's that time again. Remy feels very strongly about voting cats out of Witham. I don't have heart to tell her that it wasn't on anyone's manifesto. #DogsatPollingStations

— Ami Vet (@ami_vet)

There’s also a residence for voting officers being able to refuse entry to dogs at their own discretion, for example, if one of the officers is afraid of dogs.

If that ends up being the case when you go to vote, you’ll have to leave your dog outside.

When it comes to bigger animals like horses and ponies, you can bring them to the polling station, but they’re not permitted to enter, so don’t even try squeezing them through the door.

As for smaller animals, there are no hard and fast rules set, but it might be best to play it safe and leave your cat/rat/snake/carrier pigeon at home.

If your dog’s acting funny, get out the umbrella! According to a Press poll, 72% of dog owners believe their dog can detect when stormy weather is on the way.

Polling stations will be open for the Borough and Parish Local Elections until 10pm tonight. #DogsAtPollingStations

— Swindon Borough Council (@SwindonCouncil)

As for taking pics of your pooch, you’d be best keeping the snaps outside, as, even though taking pictures inside of the polling station wouldn’t technically be illegal, if you accidentally communicate information about how someone has voted, is about to vote, or if there’s a unique ID ballot paper number visible in your shot, you could end up in jail and saddled with a £5000 fine.