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The Animal Welfare Act - Pet Owners Duty To Care

15 years ago

5th April, 2007 00h00

The year 2007, according to BVA President David Catlow, represents a “significant landmark in the history of animal protection” with a new Animal Welfare Act coming into force in England tomorrow (6 April) - having been implemented in Wales on 28 March - and the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act coming into force on 30 April. This legislation is, said Mr Catlow, “of considerable significance to all those who work to help prevent animal suffering. By making it an offence to fail to provide for the needs of an animal, the new legislation will hopefully make it possible for enforcement agencies to take steps to prevent animal suffering, rather than, has been the case until now, only act afterwards. According to Mr Catlow the new legislation presents “both opportunities and challenges for the veterinary profession, not least in its role of helping pet owners understand the implications of the new legislation. Most significantly, the law now places a duty of care on the owners and keepers of all vertebrate animals to ensure that their animals’ needs are met. In addition to the traditional determinants of a pet’s quality of life (welfare) such as feeding, keeping living quarters clean and ensuring veterinary treatment when sick or injured, pet owners are now required to meet other possibly less familiar determinants of their pet’s welfare such as the ability to express normal behaviour. What Makes My Pet Happy Brochure“It is for this reason that a practical leaflet, designed to enable veterinary surgeons to assist pet owners meet their duty of care obligations, has been produced by the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF). The ‘What Makes My Pet Happy’ leaflet should enable veterinary surgeons to communicate to their pet owning clients the practical relevance to both them and their pets of the new legislation and just what is meant by duty of care. The leaflet presents what can be quite a complex issue in easily understandable terms using non-technical language” he said. “It explains, for instance, what quality of life is, how it can be assessed and provided for, the role of the veterinary surgeon and why the subject is important with reference to the Animal Welfare Act’s duty of care.” The ‘What Makes My Pet Happy” leaflet is available to download from the BVA AWF website at

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