In the United Kingdom, the Animal Welfare Act received royal assent and will come into effect April 6, 2007, according to the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs. Based in London, DEFRA published the bill in October 2005 (see JAVMA, Dec. 1, 2005, page 1726).
Highlights from the act, which brings together more than 20 pieces of animal welfare legislation relating to farmed and nonfarmed animals, include the following:
- introduction of a duty of care on people to meet the needs of any animal for which they are responsible
- creation of an offense for those who fail to provide for the needs of an animal in their care
- reduction of animal suffering by enabling preventive action to be taken
"The government believes that by extending the duty of care to nonfarmed animals, it will reduce animal suffering in this country," said Ben Bradshaw, a DEFRA minister. "This is the culmination of several years work during which the government has worked closely with stakeholders. The result is legislation of which we can all be rightly proud."
The British Veterinary Association played a key role in the development of the bill. From the beginning of the process, the association ensured that the government had the veterinary viewpoint on what should be included in the bill, said Dr. Freda Scott-Park, immediate past president of the BVA.
"We all welcomed (the bill) because it's a huge change from the 1911 (Protection of) Animals Act," Dr. Scott-Park said.
For more information on the Animal Welfare Act, visit www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/bill.