The welfare of animals, including farmed and non-farmed animals, is protected by the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (the 2011 Act).

What are the benefits of the Act?

The key benefits of the Act include:

  • a duty of care for all protected animals
  • it allows action to be taken to prevent suffering as opposed to waiting until suffering has occurred
  • it provides robust powers to deal with animal fighting, including dog fights
  • it provides tough fines and penalties for serious animal welfare offences

The five needs of an animal

The 2011 Act enshrines the five needs of an animal in law:

  • the need for a suitable environment;
  • the need for a suitable diet;
  • the need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns;
  • any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals; and
  • the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

A person is responsible for ensuring the needs of an animal are met if they own it or have responsibility for its day to day care.

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