Council responsible for welfare of pets

From 2 April this year, Limavady Borough Council will be responsible for new legislation introduced to protect the welfare of pets and other domestic animals including horses and donkeys.

The legislation is designed to protect such animals by providing standards of welfare and making it an offence to cause such animals’ unnecessary suffering.

A person commits an offence if he fails to ensure the needs of an animal, for which he is responsible for, are met. This includes ensuring the animal has a suitable environment and diet and the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. A person also commits an offence if he causes any animal to suffer.

This legislation also makes it an offence for anyone to dock a dog’s tail.

Commenting on the legislation a spokesperson for Council’s Environmental Health department said: “We welcome the introduction of this legislation which aims to protect pets. Council recognises that in a lot of cases people will be given advice and guidance on improving the level of care for their pets but also recognises that this legislation can be used to prosecute serious offenders.

“The maximum penalty for anyone who causes suffering to an animal is a £5,000 fine and two years imprisonment. The legislation also allows for Council Animal Welfare Inspectors to seize any animal that requires urgent assistance. If anyone has any concerns regarding the welfare of any domestic animal they can report the matter on 028 82256226 and the Animal Welfare Inspector will investigate.”

The spokesperson concluded, “It’s important to remember that Council is only responsible for the investigation of complaints relating to the welfare of pets and horses. Any concerns regarding the welfare of animals on farms should be referred to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Any concerns over the welfare of wild animals or animal fighting should be referred to the PSNI.”