Defending RSPCA prosecutions can be lengthy and complex. The consequences of being convicted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 can be very distressing as the courts routinely deprive people of their pets and disqualify them from keeping any animals in the future. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 created many offences and the most commonly charged are set out below.
Animal Welfare Act 2006
Under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal. Such suffering could be caused by either an act or a failure to act. If convicted, you can face a maximum sentence of six months in prison, an unlimited fine or both. You may also be deprived of your pet and even be disqualified from keeping animals in the future.
Failure to Observe Best Practice
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, a person who is responsible for an animal must ensure it is properly looked after to the extent required by good practice. Section 9 of the Act states that an animal’s needs shall be taken to include the following:
- its need for a suitable diet
- its need for a suitable environment
- its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
- its need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
Improvement Notices (Section 10 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006)
Section 10 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 allows the RSPCA to serve an improvement notice on a person it believes to be failing to observe best practice in caring for an animal. The notice must specify the steps to be taken and the period allowed for taking such steps. A person cannot be prosecuted under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 until the end of that specified period and they also cannot be prosecuted if the steps specified in the notice are taken. Further time for compliance may be allowed. Failure to comply with an improvement notice will usually result in a prosecution under section 9.