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New Welfare of Animals Act to come into effect next month – O’Neill

29 June, 2011 - by Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has announced that the new Welfare of Animals Act will come into operation on 11 July 2011.

Making her announcement, the Minister confirmed that her Department has made a Commencement Order to enact the majority of the provisions contained in the new Welfare of Animals Act 2011. The provisions of the Act will come into operation on 11 July 2011.

Discussing the implementation of the new Act, the Minister said: “I am very proud to be able to confirm today that the vast majority of the new Welfare of Animals Act will become operational from next month. This Act was one of several key pieces of legislation that my predecessor Michelle Gildernew brought through the Assembly and I intend to carry on to implement all of that legislation.

“The new Act is a major step forward in terms of protecting the welfare of animals, both farmed and non-farmed animals alike. From 11 July these powers come into effect and will for the first time place a “duty of care” on anyone who is responsible for a vertebrate animal. They will also allow action to be taken to prevent animals from suffering as opposed to currently having to wait until suffering occurs. The PSNI will have stronger powers to deal with the horrific practice of animal fighting and stiffer penalties will be available to the Courts to deal severely with the perpetrators who cause animals to suffer.”

She added: “I expect the last few remaining provisions of the Act, which deal with prohibited procedures, tail docking of dogs, and the appointment of inspectors, to come into operation in January and April 2012 respectively. I would also like to assure members of the public that whilst powers to appoint inspectors under this Act will not be in place until next April there will be no gap in the enforcement of animal welfare.

“In the interim my Department will continue to lead on the enforcement of animal welfare in respect of livestock on agricultural land and the PSNI will continue to lead on welfare issues in respect of other animals.”

In conclusion the Minister said: “This Act will transform animal welfare across the North. I look forward to seeing it deliver on the ground and its full implementation within the coming year.”

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