Animal Welfare Act 2006
(in force from April 2007)
This legislation came into force in April 2007. It contains many important provisions for safeguarding the welfare of animals and for this it must be applauded.
However, like its predecessor, it appears to lack the sort of proper constitutional controls put on the activities of the RSPCA, which is not in the best spirit of democracy, fairness and open government. The AVMC is not re-assured that the new legislation has addressed this yawning chasm in common sense and jurisprudential safety. To make matters worse, it appears that powers are to be increased and prosecutions may be brought, based on the opinion of an inspectorate that is not properly qualified.
During the planning stages of this Act, the AVMC made strong representations (via the Parliamentary Select Committee) that a properly-controlled and answerable body should be put in charge and that any prosecutions should go through the same process as police prosecutions i.e. through the Crown Prosecution Service, so that adequate safeguards would be in place.
The AVMC will keep an open mind on the new Act, until we see how it operates over a period. We hope that our concerns are unfounded.
Homeopathy and animal welfare: There is an archaic prejudice against natural medicine in some halls of the RSPCA and in some individuals of the veterinary profession, possibly resulting from lack of understanding and experience, which has led to prosecutions (under the previous Protection of Animals Act 1911) that were not always justified, in our opinion. The new and greater powers invested in those who would prosecute under the new Act do not instil confidence that this serious issue has been addressed.
It is clear, however, that if an ‘owner’ wishing to have an animal treated homeopathically fails to seek veterinary advice, in the proper and appropriate use of homeopathy and instead seeks the advice of a non-vet in trying to help an ill animal, this could legitimately be seen as a failure to do all that could be done for the animal’s welfare. This is not least because the non-vet has no legal right to treat animals (in fact is operating illegally) and has no proper training in veterinary care and expertise. If the animal fails to respond, it could be strongly and legitimately argued that unnecessary suffering has been caused or at least permitted.
See our Links page, for a copy of the Animal Welfare Act, DEFRA’S Explanatory Notes and DEFRA’S Guidance to Prosecutors.
Download a .pdf version of the DEFRA leaflet (Duty to Care) leaflet.
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