Domestic animal welfare
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into effect in England on 6 April 2007 and provides greater protection for animals. Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires any person responsible for an animal to care for it properly by providing;
- A proper diet, including fresh water;
- Somewhere suitable to live;
- For it, to be housed with or apart from, other animals, if necessary
- An environment for it to express normal behaviour patterns
- Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
The majority of people look after their animals well. However, if you suspect an animal is being cruelly treated please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 (for domestic animals and pets) or Wiltshire Council on 0300 456 0100 (for farm animals).
We have become aware of an increase in illegal importation of animals.
We know that some people are buying and selling dogs and cats that have been imported illegally from abroad. This trade puts the health of the animals, and the general public, at risk from diseases including rabies.
The UK has been free from rabies for many years. However, rabies is still present in many countries across the world. This is why the UK has importation controls for pet animals. These controls are designed to stop rabies and other exotic diseases from being introduced into the UK.
All dogs and cats must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before entering the UK. Vaccines are not effective in very young animals. Different manufacturers produce vaccines that need to be given at slightly different ages. The minimum age will be prescribed in the vaccine manufacturer's data sheet but is normally three months. In addition all dogs must be treated for tapeworm.
Do not buy a cat or dog from unknown sources. If you are planning to bring a new animal into your home, it's important that you know where it comes from and where it was born. Be particularly careful when buying dogs or cats advertised on the internet or through local media such as a newspaper. Illegally imported dogs and cats may not only carry diseases such as rabies but may also be advertised in a way that misleads the buyer regarding the animal's history, breed or pedigree.
You can play a part in fighting the illegal trade in pet animals by following some simple guidelines.
If you're planning to buy a cat or dog:
- Buy your animal from a reputable supplier. Advice on buying a dog or cat is available from a range of animal organisations, such as Kennel Club , the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA
- Check the animal's history by speaking to a previous owner. If you are buying a puppy or a kitten, you should ask to see it with its mother and the rest of the litter.
- View the animal and its documentation before you buy. If it was born outside of the UK it must have either a pet passport or a veterinary certificate. The pet passport needs to confirm that it was vaccinated against rabies at the correct age, according to the manufacturer's data sheet (normally at three months of age. For dogs, the passport should also show that it has been treated for tapeworm.
- If you have any doubts about an animal, speak to your vet before agreeing to buy it.
If your new pet is found to be illegally imported and non-compliant with disease control rules, then you may find yourself having to pay for costly quarantine and veterinary bills. If you are unable to meet these costs, this may leave the Local Authority with no option other than to euthanase (put down) the animal.
You can also expect a visit from your Local Authority, who will be conducting an investigation into potential criminal offences. You could become a witness in any further enforcement action.
Don't let yourself become another victim of the illegal pet trade.
Under the Control of Dogs order 1992 all dogs when out in public place must wear a collar with an identity tag displaying your name, address and preferably a contact number.
Additionally, by law from 6 April 2016 it became compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped and registered on a national database.
This new legislation will help with reuniting lost dogs with their owners and help with tracing animals.
Having a dog microchipped is a simple and quick process with as little stress to the animal as possible. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted just underneath the skin between the shoulder blades via a needle. It's a process similar to a dog having its annual vaccination and once in place causes the dog no discomfort or pain. For information on how to get a dog microchipped, please contact your local veterinary surgery or dog charity.
It is very important that microchip details are kept up to date to ensure that a lost dog is reunited with the owner as soon as possible. To check or update microchip details, contact the database with which the microchip is registered, if this information is not known, speak to your local veterinary surgery for help and advice.
The council's Dog Wardens will issue an improvement notice to a dog owner whose dog is not microchipped, giving them three weeks to comply. Failure in complying may lead the dog owner in going to court where a fine of up to £500 could be imposed.
If you have been given a dog and do not know if it is microchipped, your vet will be able to scan the dog for you to check if it has a chip.
Visiting a farm is an enjoyable and educational visit for children. However, such visits can never be free of risk. Farm animals carry a number of infections that can be harmful to people. E coli is of particular concern because very small numbers of bacteria can cause serious illness especially in young children. Symptoms may include bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.
The following steps will help to ensure that you and your children avoid the risk of infection:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating, after any contact with animals and again before leaving the site. Young children should be supervised to ensure that they wash hands properly.
- Follow the instructions and information given by the site staff.
- Do not kiss animals.
- Only eat food in designated areas.
- Never eat food that has fallen to the ground.
- Never taste animal foods.
- Do not suck fingers or put hands, pens, pencils or crayons etc. in mouths.
- Where practical and possible, clean or change their footwear before leaving.
- Wash your hands after changing their footwear.
- Cover cuts and grazes with a waterproof dressing.
- Do not wander into areas that are not intended for public access
If your child has sickness or diarrhoea after a farm visit, go the doctor and explain that they have had recent contact with animals.
If you'd like further information you can download a free leaflet called 'Avoiding infection on farm visits: advice for the public'. Businesses can obtain further information by downloading the Access to Farms: Industry Code of Practice.
For more specific advice or to report illness that may be connected with an animal attraction, please contact Public Protection Services, Wiltshire Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.