The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last week launched a public consultation into a code of practice for the welfare of dogs. Upon its introduction, which is anticipated early next year, it will become a dog owner’s responsibility to read the complete code to understand fully your dog’s welfare needs and what the law requires you to do.
Drawn up as secondary legislation under the terms of the 2006 Animal Welfare
Act, the provisional code includes such simplistic advice as make sure your dog has a balanced diet that meets its nutritional needs; ensure your dog is kept away from harmful substances; make sure your dog has a suitable place to live and arrange for your dog to be cared for if you are away from home.
DEFRA also launched similar consultations on codes of practice for horses and cats last week. The cat code includes the advice that the creatures are “natural carnivores” and cannot survive on a vegetarian diet, as thousands of songbird lovers will testify.
“The 2006 Animal Welfare Act has been the most important piece of animal legislation for nearly a century,” commented environment secretary Hilary Benn, at the consultations’ launch last week. “Animals are now afforded greater protection than ever before. These codes of practice will outline the responsibilities of owners under the Act and give practical advice on how to fulfill them. This means no-one will be able to claim ignorance
as an excuse for mistreating any animal.”
If a person fails to comply with a code of practice they will not be liable to proceedings of any kind, but failure to comply with several provisions of the code may be used in evidence to support a prosecution for animal cruelty.