ARCHIVE: Protecting pets from cruelty
Codes of practice for the welfare of dogs, cats, horses (including other equidae) and privately kept non-human primates
The codes provide owners and keepers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. They can also be used in courts as evidence in cases brought before them relating to poor welfare. The codes apply to England only (Wales and Scotland have their own equivalent codes), and are in force from 6 April 2010.
- Welfare of Dogs (PDF 1.3 MB)
- Welfare of Cats (PDF 1.9 MB)
- Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids (PDF 600 KB)
- Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates (PDF 73KB)
- News release: Pet owners urged to follow new Animal Welfare Codes
The above Codes were subject to a public consultation which closed in December 2008. A summary of the responses for the consultation is available:
- Summary of responses for the consultation on the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Equines (PDF 390 KB)
- Summary of responses for the consultation on the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats (PDF 370 KB)
- Summary of responses for the consultation on the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs (PDF 400 KB)
Protecting pets from cruelty
The United Kingdom has a long history of protecting animals from cruelty. In 1822 Richard Martin's Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle was passed by Parliament. This is the first parliamentary legislation for animal welfare in the world.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is the most significant change in animal welfare legislation in almost a century.
- Leaflet: Advice for owners on protecting the welfare of pet dogs and cats during jouneys
- Fireworks and animals Advice on how to keep you animals safe during the fireworks season (PDF 430 KB) - Animals have very acute hearing. Loud bangs and whistles may cause them actual pain in their ears. But by following these simple guidelines your pet need not suffer.
In general terms 'companion animals' are all those species of animals which are kept by man for companionship and which are often referred to as pets.
The Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) was launched in 1999 as an independent advisory body to all parties, including central government, on companion animal welfare matters. One of CAWC's principle aims is the assessment of existing legislation affecting the welfare of companion animals and, for example, CAWC has worked closely with Defra on issues relating to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
When CAWC was established it was funded entirely by charitable donations and these remain a significant source of its funding. In addition Defra is providing some medium-term grant aid to CAWC payable over a three-year period from 2005.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, powers exist for secondary legislation and codes of practice to be made to promote the welfare of animals. The government is currently looking at a number of specific issues with a view to updating or bringing in new regulations or codes.
Until such new provisions are made, existing laws will continue to apply. These include:
The welfare of performing animals is provided for in the general provisions to avoid suffering and ensure welfare in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In addition the training and exhibition of performing animals is further regulated by the 1925 Act which requires trainers and exhibitors of such animals to be registered with the local authority. Under this Act, the police and officers of local authorities, who may include a vet, have power to enter premises where animals are being trained and exhibited, and if cruelty and neglect is detected, magistrates' courts can prohibit or restrict the training or exhibition of the animals and suspend or cancel the registration granted under the Act.
Local authorities are required under the 1925 Act to forward copies of all certificates to Defra.
Copies of the certificates should be sent to the following address:
Mr H Togher, Animal Welfare Team, Defra, Area 8B, 9 Millbank, c/o 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR, or email@example.com
The Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended in 1983) protects the welfare of animals sold as pets. The Act requires any person keeping a pet shop to be licensed by the local authority. Before granting a licence the local authority must be satisfied that the animals are kept in accommodation that is both suitable and clean; that they are supplied with appropriate food and drink; and are adequately protected from disease and fire. The local authority may attach any conditions to the licence, may inspect the licensed premises at all reasonable times and may refuse a licence if the conditions at the premises are unsatisfactory or if the terms of the licence are not being complied with.
Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the law in this area and anyone who has reason to believe that a pet shop is keeping animals in inadequate conditions should raise the matter with the local authority who will decide what action to take within the range of its powers.
Under s.2 pets cannot be sold in the street, including on barrows and markets.
Establishments where the boarding of animals is being carried on as a business are subject to the 1963 Act, which requires such establishments to be licensed by the local authority. For the purpose of this Act the keeping of such establishments is defined as the carrying on at any premises, including a private dwelling, of a business of providing accommodation for other people's cats and dogs.
The licence is granted at the discretion of the local authority which may take into account the suitability of the accommodation and whether the animals are well fed, exercised and protected from disease and fire.
Riding establishments are licensed by local authorities under the 1964 Act. The local authority can impose conditions on the licence. The local authority, in the exercise of its discretion, may take into account the suitability of the applicant/manager, the accommodation and pasture, adequacy of the provision for the horses' health, welfare and exercise, precautions against fire and disease and the suitability of the horses as regards the reasons for which they are kept.
The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, The Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
Anyone who is in the business of breeding and selling dogs will require a licence from the local authority under the 1973 Act as amended by the 1999 Act. The local authority has discretion whether to grant a licence and must ensure that the animals will be suitably accommodated, fed, exercised and protected from disease and fire. It is for local authorities, who have extensive powers to check on the standards of health, welfare and accommodation of the animals, to enforce the requirements of the Act.
The 1999 Act provides that bitches are not mated until they are at least one year old and that they give birth to no more than six litters in a lifetime and no more than one litter per year. Accurate breeding records must be maintained by the establishment for tighter controls on the sale of dogs by dealers and pet shop; for identification for traded dogs; and stiffer penalties, including imprisonment.
In addition, the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 extended the powers of local authorities to obtain a warrant to enter any premises, excluding a private dwelling house, in which it is believed that a dog breeding business is being carried out. All outbuildings, garages and sheds are open to inspection. Previously local authority inspectors could enter and inspect only premises which were already licensed.
- Welfare of pets in quarantine
- Veterinary surveillance: Pet animals
- Travelling with pets
- Dogs: The control of dogs - Information on the Dangerous Dogs Act and prohibited types of dog.
- Animal Welfare Act 2006
- Mutilations and tail docking of dogs
- Pet sales and pet fairs
Page last modified: 13 August 2010
Page published: 16 September 2009