Animal Welfare

Trading Standards at Somerset County Council provides a comprehensive Animal Health and Welfare enforcement service covering the following areas:

  • Animal Movement Licensing Call Centre
  • Animal Health and Welfare Monitoring
  • Livestock Records
  • Misdescription and fraud involving farm animals
Animal Welfare Act 2006

The Animal Welfare Act will be the most significant animal welfare legislation for nearly a century. It came into force on the 8 November 2006. The main objectives of the new Act are to:

  • Reduce animal suffering by enabling preventive action to be taken before suffering occurs. 
  • Place on people who are responsible for domestic and companion animals a duty requiring them to do all that is reasonable to ensure the welfare of their animals.
  • Extend the existing power to make secondary legislation to promote the welfare of farmed animals to non-farmed animals, bringing legislation for non-farmed animals in line with that for farmed animals.
  • Deter persistent offenders by strengthening penalties and eliminating many loopholes in the current system. For example, those causing unnecessary suffering to an animal will face up to 51 weeks in prison, a fine of up to £20,000, or both.
  • Simplify the legislation for enforcers and animal keepers by consolidating over 20 pieces of legislation into one.
  • Extend to companion animals welfare codes agreed by Parliament, a mechanism currently used to provide guidance on welfare standards for farmed animals.
  • Strengthen and amend current offences related to animal fighting.
  • Increase the effectiveness of law enforcement for animal welfare offences.
  • Increase from 12 to 16 the minimum age at which a child may buy an animal, and prohibit the giving of pets as prizes to unaccompanied children under the age of 16.
  • Ban mutilations of animals, with certain specified exemptions.

Enforcement of the Act will be carried out by the Police, Local Authorities and the State Veterinary Service, who will be able to recruit the assistance of other specialists such as veterinary surgeons where appropriate.