Animal Aid

Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006

Posted 21 February 2007

The new Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006 places a duty of care on pet owners to ensure that the needs of their animals are met. Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of an animal could now lead to a jail sentence. It is more important than ever that people who are thinking of taking on an animal - or already have one - put his or her needs first and foremost.

Under the new law, animals must have adequate room, fresh bedding and shelter from adverse weather. They must be allowed to express their natural behaviour and to interact with other animals where appropriate. Keeping a single rabbit in a dirty hutch at the bottom of the garden, or a rat in a tiny cage with nothing to occupy his bright mind could now lead to a prosecution and jail. The maximum penalty under this Act is a £20,000 fine or a 51-week jail sentence, or both.

If you feel able to offer a permanent and happy home to an animal, please visit a sanctuary rather than a pet shop or breeder. Animal sanctuaries, unlike most pet shops, offer sound advice about an animal’s needs and wants. They know each animal individually and are able to match the right animal to the right home. They may offer follow-up visits to make sure all is well. Sanctuaries take care of animals who have been dumped or abused, and do not add to the problem of over-breeding by creating more.

If you would like advice about taking on an animal, or want to know where your nearest rescue centre is, contact Kelly.

If you believe an animal is living in an unsuitable environment, report the problem to the RSPCA. Call 0870 5555 999. Your anonymity will be respected.

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