The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is a “significant improvement on previous legislation” although some changes are required “for the act to be fully effective”, according to the results of a review conducted on behalf of the equine sector.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is a “significant improvement on previous legislation” although some changes are required “for the act to be fully effective”, according to the results of a review conducted on behalf of the equine sector.
 
Animal Welfare  Act significantly improved, but still not perfect  for equine sectorDEFRA commissioned The Horse Trust to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in relation to equines.
 
The trust consulted with various organisations in the equine sector and produced a report, which was submitted to DEFRA at the end of August. It will form part of the post-legislative scrutiny process.
 
The report, titled Post-Legislative Assessment of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – An equine perspective, states: “The act is a significant improvement on previous legislation and now enables inspectors to be much more proactive when dealing with welfare concerns. On the whole, enforcement of the act is working well however there are some areas that require amendment or clarification for the act to be fully effective.”
 
Liane Crowther, The Horse Trust’s welfare and education officer and one of the co-authors of the report, said: “This report underlines the value of [the] Animal Welfare Act and how it has helped improve the welfare of horses across the UK. We hope that the government will take note of the recommendations outlined in the report to make it easier to enforce the act and close any loopholes for offenders.”
 
Co-author Liane CrowtherVarious improvements were listed in the report, including:

  • Stronger powers to deal with non-compliant horse owners,
  • A suggested change in sentencing guidelines, and
  • The need to increase awareness amongst owners, keepers and equine businesses about their responsibilities under the act.

The Animal Welfare Act introduced more flexibility in sentencing the worst offenders, allowing for higher fines and other penalties. However, the report states that in some cases the use of additional penalties, such as community service, has resulted in shorter deprivation and disqualification orders.
 
The report called for deprivation and disqualification orders to be prioritised over other penalties as these are of greater use in safeguarding welfare.
 
DEFRA will publish its post legislative review of the Animal Welfare Act at the end of the year.

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