The Animal Welfare Bill is set to become the most significant piece of animal welfare legislation for nearly 100 years. As well as increasing the penalties for those who inflict the most serious cruelty offences, the Animal Welfare Bill introduces the new welfare offence. This will introduce a ‘duty of care’ on pet owners to provide for their animal’s basic needs – such as adequate food and water, veterinary treatment when required, and an appropriate environment in which to live.
Helping dogs and other animals it will:
- Reduce animal suffering by enabling preventive action to be taken before suffering occurs.
- Deter persistent offenders by strengthening penalties and eliminating many loopholes in the current system. For example, those causing unnecessary suffering to an animal will face up to 51 weeks in prison, a fine of up to £20,000, or both.
- Place on people who are responsible for domestic and companion animals a duty requiring them to do all that is reasonable to ensure the welfare of their animals.
- Simplify the legislation for enforcers and animal keepers by consolidating over 20 pieces of legislation into one.
- Extend to companion animals welfare codes agreed by Parliament, a mechanism currently used to provide guidance on welfare standards for farmed animals.
- Strengthen and amend current offences related to animal fighting.
- Increase the effectiveness of law enforcement for animal welfare offences.
- Increase from 12 to 16 the minimum age at which a child may buy an animal, and prohibit the giving of pets as prizes to unaccompanied children under the age of 16.