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Animal Welfare

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that where animals are abandoned as a result of their owners being jailed, the welfare of the animals themselves is safeguarded. (92096)

If an owner is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, it is his responsibility to make arrangements for the care of his animals.

Under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal. Additionally, it is an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 to abandon any domestic or captive animal in circumstances likely to cause unnecessary suffering.

In certain limited circumstances, abandoned animals which are suffering can be legally destroyed by the State Veterinary Service. In other cases, the RSPCA is often able to help.

Under the Animal Welfare Bill, currently before Parliament, an inspector or constable may take an animal into possession if, in the opinion of a veterinary surgeon, the animal is suffering, or is likely to suffer if its circumstances do not change. This will provide a legal basis for acting in cases where animals have been abandoned for any reason and are likely to suffer as a result.