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Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare Act

The aim of the Animal Welfare Act is to improve the welfare of animals, impose greater responsibility on their carers and provide greater investigation and entry powers for Police and local authority staff to deal with offences.

Under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is the duty of any person responsible for an animal to ensure that its welfare needs are met including:

  • The need for a suitable environment (how it is housed)
  • The need for a suitable diet (what it eats and drinks)
  • The need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • Any need to be housed with or apart from other animals, and
  • The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease


Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act

Depending on the type of offence and animals involved, enforcement is shared between the RSPCA, Police, DEFRA and Local Authorities.



The Police, Local Authority, or a member of the public can undertake a prosecution which can be started up to 3 years after the offence (as long as it is within 6 months of the evidence becoming available).



Penalties will vary with the most serious offences liable to a fine of up to £20,000 and /or 51 weeks imprisonment.

Powers will be available to impose disqualification orders banning a person from owning or looking after animals and either dealing or transporting animals.


Reporting an injured or mistreated animal

If you know about an animal that is injured or being treated cruelly, please call the RSPCA's national 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999 or, visit the RSPCA website.


Licensing of Activities Involving Animals

The law governing the licensing of animal welfare establishments changed on 1st October 2018 through the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018.

This has been done in order to bring the licensing regime up to date with local government regulation, improve animal care standards and make it compatible with the Animal Welfare Act 2006.


Please see the Animal Licensing page for more information on this change.