Animal Welfare Act

On 6 April 2007 animal welfare laws were changed to improve animals' wellbeing. It is against the law to be cruel to an animal, and you must also ensure that all the welfare needs of your animals are met.

What does the Act do?

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (external link) makes owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs of their animals are met.

These include the need:

  • For a suitable environment (place to live) 
  • For a suitable diet 
  • To exhibit normal behaviour patterns 
  • To be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable) 
  • To be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease 

The law also increased to 16 the minimum age at which a person can buy an animal and prohibits giving animals as prizes to unaccompanied children under this age.

Anyone who is cruel to an animal, or does not provide for its welfare needs, may be banned from owning animals, fined up to £20,000 and/or sent to prison.

More information is available from the DEFRA (external link) website.