Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act was introduced in 2006. Before it was introduced animal welfare law was reactive. Action could only be taken after an animal had suffered unnecessarily.

The main aim of the Animal Welfare Act is to protect animals from pain and suffering. Enforcement agencies and RSPCA inspectors can advise and educate owners before their pets suffers. They can also issue a formal warning or even act through prosecution.

What happens if a pet damages property or attacks someone?

The Dangerous Dogs Act means it is illegal for a dog to be ‘out of control.’ This includes biting or attacking someone. The legislation also makes it an offence if a person is afraid a dog might bite them. It’s important to make sure your dog is under control at all times.

The Dangerous Dogs Act was updated in 2014 to include private property. This means your home and other’s homes, including gardens.

If your dog is protecting you from an intruder, the law does provide a defence. However this can be complicated. You can learn more on the RSPCA’s website.

If an offence happens, it can mean six months' imprisonment and a fine of £5,000.

Other obligations

There are other laws that cover pets.

In general, you must pick up after your dog in public. There are some exceptions like woodlands. Local Authorities can impose Public Space Protection Orders to prevent dog fouling.

Pets making a lot of noise or causing other forms of pollution like smell or dust, can be classed as a ‘nuisance’. If a complaint is made to the council, they can investigate and even prosecute the pet owner.