Animal welfare law related to cats gets a boost in the U.K.
By Angus Nurse
The Cat Group, the collaborative group of animal charities and organizations working on cat health and welfare in the United Kingdom, has published a new booklet entitled Cats and the Law – a plain English guide. The authors, Dr. Angus Nurse, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University School of Law, and Diane Ryland, Senior Lecturer at the Law School at the University of Lincoln, worked with the Cat Group to produce a research paper and also the plain English guide to Cats and the Law.
The guide is a summary of current U.K. law relating to cats, primarily the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and its introduction of a positive obligation to promote and observe animal welfare in companion animals. UK law now requires consideration of the needs of the individual animal rather than a general approach to companion animal care.
While the plain English guide is about cats and the duty to provide good standards of feline welfare, it also shows how U.K. animal welfare law has changed to require a positive approach to animal welfare not just the outlawing of acts of cruelty. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 promotes good standards of animal care for all companion animals and a responsible approach to sharing a home with a companion animal. It extends the definition of unnecessary suffering so that the law now considers mental distress caused to animals as crimes by specifying a wider definition of what constitutes unnecessary suffering. Arguably it represents an end to a ‘standard’ approach to animal care and ushers in an era of informed, responsible animal care backed up by solid enforcement provisions.
Click here to access the guide on the Cat Group website.
Dr. Angus Nurse is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University School of Law and is the author of Animal Harm: Perpsectives on Why People Harm and Kill Animals.