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Am I breaking the law?

Residents of the United Kingdom are known worldwide to be a nation of animal lovers, but do we all know where we stand with regards to the law and our pets?

In the next few months we will be sharing some prominent laws every pet owner should know.

Prior to the Animal Welfare Act, animal welfare law was largely reactive and action could only be taken once an animal had suffered unnecessarily.

The 2006 Act introduced an important and new concept for pet owners and those responsible for domestic animals, e.g. breeders, those who have working animals or farm animals in England and Wales.

This means enforcement agencies and the National RSPCA inspectors can now act by advising and educating owners before their pets suffer. If this advice is not followed or the animal’s needs are not being met then action can be taken whether through a formal warning or in some cases a prosecution.

What does the law actually say?

Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act places a duty of care on people to ensure they take reasonable steps in all the circumstances to meet the welfare needs of their animals to the extent required by good practice.

Anyone responsible for looking after animals should give them the five freedoms:

Freedom from Hunger and Thirst . Animals should have access to fresh water all the time and the right type and amount of food to keep them fit.

Freedom from Discomfort . Animals should have the right type of home, including shelter and somewhere comfortable to rest.

Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease . Animals should always be fit and well and should be treated by a vet if they are sick or injured.

Freedom to express normal behavior . Animals should have enough space, proper facilities and the company of other animals of their own kind.

Freedom from Fear or Distress . By making sure the animals’ conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering

If you have a concern about an animal that is sick, injured or in distress, call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999

EmmaAm I breaking the law?