UK Animal Welfare Legislation Receives Royal Assent

The most important piece of animal welfare legislation for nearly a century received Royal Assent today (Nov. 8).

By updating and bringing together more than 20 pieces of animal welfare legislation relating to farmed and non-farmed animals, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 will:

  • introduce a "duty of care" on people to ensure the needs of any animal for which they are responsible;
  • create a new offence of failing to provide for the needs of an animal in your care;
  • allow action to protect animals to be taken much earlier--rather than have to wait for an animal to show the signs of suffering, enforcers will be able to intervene before suffering begins;
  • place more emphasis on owners and keepers who will need to understand their responsibilities and take all reasonable steps to provide for the needs of their animals.

Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "The most fundamental piece of animal welfare legislation for nearly a century has now passed into law. The Government believes that by extending the duty of care to non-farmed animals, it will reduce animal suffering in this country. This is the culmination of several years work during which the government has worked closely with stakeholders. The result is legislation of which we can all be rightly proud."

Debby Reynolds, Chief Veterinary Officer, said: "I am delighted that the Animal Welfare Bill has now received Royal Assent. The bringing up to date of animal welfare legislation will help to improve the way people look after their animals. The extra powers will mean that action can now be taken before an animal starts to suffer, and will put companion animals on the same legislative footing as farmed animals. The new Act forms an important part of our overall strategy on animal health and welfare."

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