Animal Welfare

New Romney, 5th April 2010

New laws to protect general animal welfare were introduced in the UK on the 6th of April 2007. These laws are listed under the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. This law condemns the unnecessary suffering of an animal such as tail docking of a dog and animal fights. It also lists the responsibilities of dog owners who's duty is to ensure that the needs of their dogs are fulfilled.

It has been scientifically established that most animals can experience pain. Also, to protect them, the Animal Welfare Act has defined the unnecessary suffering of an animal, listing all the procedures which cause unnecessary pain to the animal. This Act recognizes tail docking of a dog to be a breach of the Animal Welfare Act, unless the clinical procedure can be legitimately explained for medical reasons. Subsequently, the UK Kennel Club has banned the showing of docked dogs who's tail has been removed after the 6th of April 2007.

This ban, however, does not affect all dogs of the working class group who are taking part in a show to demonstrate their abilities to perform a task. This exception though is subject to a strict control. The tail docking clinical procedure will have to be performed by a professional veterinary surgeon, who will need to certify that the dog belongs to the working class group and will be able to perform specific tasks. During the clinical examination, the veterinary surgeon will need to establish whether the dog will have the ability to work in one of the following fields: law enforcement, emergency rescue, the lawful shooting of animals, lawful pest control or activities of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Also, the veterinary surgeon will need to check that the dogs certificates are in order and that and the puppy is less than 5 days old. In England, there are currently three main groups of dogs which might be subject to tail docking. These groups are known as the Terriers, Retrievers and Spaniels. Of the docked dogs, it is not unusual though that some puppies can not perform the tasks listed above, given how challenging they are.

Animal welfare ActAnimal cruelty such as animal fights have been banned in England since 1835. However, more recently the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 has felt the urge to redefine the law to protect certain dog breeds, such as the Staffordshire bull Terrier. This dog has been historically long used in dog fights and more recently as a status sign for gangsters or minority groups. The Act condemns any person taking part in dog fights in any format. As such the law condemns dog owners enlisting their dogs in dog fights, animal fights promoters, spectators and bettors. The law also stipulates that dog owners should not own any instrument designed for dog fights and should not encourage animal fights by giving a special training to their dogs.

All dog owners, who have taken the responsibility of adopting a dog, should ensure the essential needs of their companions are fulfilled, so that the dog can enjoy a well balanced and healthy life. The Animal welfare Act of 2006 mentions the dietary needs of the animal, its needs to live in a suitable environment and to be cared for throughout his life. Animal welfare organizations such as the RSPCA can take actions is they suspect owners causing unnecessary suffering to their pet. These actions can vary from simple warnings to the removal of the pet from the household and subsequent prosecution of the owner. Owners who fail to honour the dogs’ essential needs can be prosecuted and banned from keeping a dog for a certain period of time. The court can also enforce its decision by giving the defendant a jail sentence and/or a fine.

Unfortunately, three years after the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, there are still many cases of mistreated animals that are being reported by animal welfare associations. Such unethical attitude from owners generally leads to the bad reputation of some dog breeds who are mainly known for one their characteristics in spite of all the other breed abilities. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier for instance has long been a victim of its appearance with gangsters using him as a status sign. As a result, many people are unaware that he also can be a very affectionate companion.

Celine Goddeeris


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