Thursday, February 24, 2011

Northern Ireland Finally Passes A New Welfare of Animals Act

Historic Animal Welfare Bill Passed In Northern Ireland

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the passing of the Welfare of Animals Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly this week.

The Welfare of Animals Act is expected to come in to law in April 2011 and will be the first major update in animal welfare legislation since the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972.

The BVA and the veterinary associations in Northern Ireland have been very supportive of the new legislation which will provide additional protection by introducing a duty of care for all animals.

The Act is similar to the Animal Welfare Acts in Great Britain and shifts the emphasis from taking action when cruelty has occurred to preventing cruelty and suffering in the first place.

However, the new Act is not perfect. In introducing the Bill the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MLA, originally set out plans to ban tail docking in dogs (expect for truly therapeutic reasons), but opposition to a complete ban at Committee Stage has resulted in a wide exemption for working dogs.

Despite representations by the BVA and its territorial division, the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA), and other veterinary and welfare organisations, in favour of a complete ban the Minister compromised in order to secure the success of the whole Bill.

Commenting, Harvey Locke, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

"This historic legislation brings Northern Ireland in line with the higher welfare standards enjoyed in Great Britain and will ensure that the UK sits at the top of the global league table for animal welfare.

"Domestic and farmed animals are a vital component of our everyday lives. Their health and welfare should be promoted and should be protected from any suffering.

"We remain disappointed that a complete ban on tail docking was sacrificed to secure the future of the Bill, but believe there is much in the legislation to celebrate.

"Much of the power of the legislation will be determined by secondary legislation and the veterinary profession will be pushing for robust codes of practice."

David Torrens, President of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA), added:

"The Welfare of Animals Act is a significant milestone for animal welfare in Northern Ireland and we particularly welcome the additional protection it affords pets and horses.

"The inclusion in the Bill of an offence of failing to take whatever measures are required to prevent suffering is a positive move that will enormously improve the existing legislation, which requires suffering to have occurred before any legal action can be taken.

"However, it is vital that DARD and the local authorities are given enough resources to properly enforce the legislation if it is to succeed in improving the welfare of animals."


1. The Welfare of Animals Bill passed through the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday 22nd February 2011. The announcement from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development sets out the key provisions of the Bill: see here.

British Veterinary Association


lisascherer said...

You are a beautiful gem to have a blog dedicated to dogs. May you find pure happiness in this world.

lisascherer said...

Keep blogging about dogs. I happened to stumble upon you when searching something. Your news will get out there.