Cats Protection – the UK’s leading feline welfare charity – welcomes the new Animal Welfare Act which became law in England on Friday, 6 April. The Act became law in Wales on 28 March and an equivalent Act became law in Scotland in October of last year.
The charity rehomes around 60,000 stray or unwanted cats and kittens in the UK each year and has been actively involved in the process of bringing about these changes in the animal welfare laws. Cats Protection hopes that the new laws will provide much greater protection against cruelty not just for cats, but for all animals.
Until now, those responsible for pets could only be prosecuted for cruelty once it had occurred; the Act contains provisions designed to prevent cruelty before it happens. It also places, for the first time, a duty on pet owners to provide for all of their pet’s needs, including:
• A proper diet (food and water)
• Somewhere suitable to live
• Addressing any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
• The opportunity to express normal behaviour
• Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
The Animal Welfare Act will also increase the penalties for those who commit the most serious offences of cruelty against animals.
Dominic Sullivan, Cats Protection’s Head of Legal Services said:
"These new laws represent the biggest change in animal welfare law for nearly a hundred years.
As a charity that cares passionately about the health and well-being of the nation’s favourite pet, we hope that the Act will help to reduce feline suffering and ensure adequate punishment for those who abuse cats and other animals.”
More information about the Animal Welfare Act is available on Cats Protection’s website www.cats.org.uk