The RSPCA has welcomed new government guidelines for pet owners on how to look after their dogs, cats, horses and primates, which come into force yesterday (April 6). The welfare codes of practice have been introduced to help ensure the needs and requirements of people’s pets are met.
The RSPCA has welcomed new government guidelines for pet owners on how to look after their dogs, cats, horses and primates, which come into force yesterday (April 6).
The welfare codes of practice have been introduced by the government in England to help make sure the needs and requirements of people’s pets are met. The codes apply to England only (Wales and Scotland have their own equivalent codes) and came into force yesterday (April 6).
The individual codes expand on existing legislation set out in the Animal Welfare Act and contain advice that falls into the following sections:
• The need for a suitable environment
• The need for a suitable diet
• The need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
• The need to be housed with, or apart form, other animals
• The need to be protected from pain, suffering injury and disease.
RSPCA government relations manager Claire Robinson said: “The RSPCA welcomes the introduction of the codes and hopes that they will make a great difference to help owners understand what their pets need. The society has been working closely with the government to develop the codes to ensure that they are appropriate, effective and workable and we think that they are succinct enough for owners to read and comprehend.”
RSPCA inspectors will use the codes on a regular basis to help in their day-to-day work throughout England. Although breaking the codes will not be an offence, the information in them can be used by a court to illustrate whether an owner was complying with the Animal Welfare Act.
RSPCA superintendent Tim Minty said: “The codes will first and foremost be an invaluable educational tool for everyone involved in animal welfare but they will also play a vital role to help RSPCA inspectors identify any problems of neglect or cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act. Inspectors will be able to properly measure the welfare of an animal against specific guidelines so that they can accurately assess whether an animal’s needs are being properly met.
“The codes will also help inspectors to advise the person responsible for the animal on how to look after their pet so the RSPCA and owners can work together to make sure the animals are happy and healthy.”
The RSPCA claims it will continue to work with DEFRA to review the effectiveness of the codes.