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New Animal Welfare consultations open

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development have launched three 12 week consultations which deal with the welfare of animals.
Friday, 1 July 2011

The consultations are in respect of the first pieces of subordinate legislations under the new Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

The first consultation relates to the draft Welfare of Animals (Permitted Procedures by Lay Persons) Regulations which will, for the first time, set out the procedures that are permitted to be carried out on animals by non-veterinarians. The Regulations will provide clarity to all keepers of animals by listing all acceptable procedures, many of which are commonly practised today. The Regulations propose to ban the hot branding of horses for identification purposes. Prohibited procedures will be permitted in an emergency for the purpose of saving life or relieving the pain.

The second consultation relates to the draft Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails (Certification and Identification) Regulations which set out the conditions for exemption from the ban on docking dogs’ tails, which will come into force next April. They set out the requirements to be observed before a veterinary surgeon may certify that a dog is a working dog and for the microchip identification for such dogs. The Schedule sets out the proposed content of the new certificate to be used when certifying a working dog.

The third consultation relates to the amendment and consolidation of the existing Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations, following the introduction of the Welfare of Animals Act 2011. When these regulations come to operation in April 2012 Departmental Inspectors will for the first time be able to seize farm animals, in the past these powers only extended to the police service. The legislation allows earlier intervention to prevent suffering before it has taken place so that action can be taken when is found that an animal is likely to suffer, rather than previously where suffering had to have already taken place.

Comments on the draft Welfare of Animals (Permitted Procedures by Lay Persons) Regulations and draft Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails (Certification and Identification) Regulations are requested by 23 September 2011. Comments on the draft Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations are requested by 26 September 2011.

Further information on any of these three consultations can be found on the DARD website.

Notes to editors:

1. The Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 received Royal Assent on 29 March 2011, and the first commencement order was made on 29 June 2011 and will come into force on 11 July 2011.

2. Section 5 of the Act creates an offence where any person carries out a procedure which involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of an animal. That section also allows the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to specify by regulation any procedures that may be exempt from the prohibition and such procedures are listed in the draft Regulations and schedule. It is proposed to introduce these Regulations in January 2012.

3. Section 6 of the Act, when it is commenced in April 2012, will introduce a ban on the tail docking of dogs. That section also allows the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide by regulation an exemption to the ban for certain certified working dogs. A working dog is one used in connection with law enforcement, lawful pest control or the lawful shooting of animals. The eligible breeds of working dog are set out in schedule 1 of the 2011 Act. The Regulations will introduce a new certification procedure for working dogs and an identification requirement that such dogs must be microchipped before they leave the breeder.

4. Section 11 of the Act, when it is commenced on 11 July 2011, permits the making of regulations to secure the welfare of animals. This provision requires that the animals’ needs and welfare are met by those whom have responsibility for their care, and it is offence for the temporary or permanent keeper not to do so.

5. The fines and penalties for welfare related offences as set out in the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 are as follows:-

  • · On summary conviction to a maximum of six months imprisonment and / or a maximum fine of £5,000 (level 5 on the standard scale);
  • · On conviction on indictment (trial by jury) to a maximum of two years imprisonment and / or an unlimited fine.

6. The consultation papers, draft regulations and equality screening documents are on the Department’s website. Hard copies may be obtained directly from the Department by telephoning 028 9076 5850 or faxing 028 9052 4982.

7. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: mailto:pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.