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animal welfare regulations As an animal owner, you have certain legal responsibilities towards your animals, and these obligations are set out in the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

  • In summary, the Act requires you to provide all your animals’ needs, whether physical, health or behavioural.
  • It is an offence not to meet these needs “according to good practice and scientific knowledge”.
  • You must not ill-treat any animal so that it experiences unnecessary or unreasonable pain or suffering.
  • If you have a sick or injured animal you must treat it or get it treated. It is an offence not to alleviate its pain or distress.
  • You mustn’t kill any animal, even one you own, in such a way that you cause it unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.
  • Many surgical procedures can be carried out only by a veterinarian.
  • The Act doesn’t expand on all the details of what’s required to meet your legal obligations, because then it would be hopelessly unwieldy.
  • Details of the standards required can be found in the Codes of Recommendations and Minimum Standards (CORMS).
  • These CORMS are gradually being replaced by Codes of Welfare, which fully complement the Animal Welfare Act (1999).
  • The CORMS (and Codes, when they have been produced) detail what is the minimum acceptable for food and water, management and shelter, and various procedures such as castration, disbudding and dehorning, etc.
  • CORMS and Codes of Welfare can be viewed on the MAF website.


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