May 20, 2024

Take care of pets –or else

New animal welfare guidelines in UK

The UK government has issued provisional guidelines for pet care: cats (28 pages), dogs (30 pages) and horses and donkeys (37 pages). They give practical advice on how people should meet their responsibilities under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

Although there are no fines suggested for breaking the code, which will be published as leaflets after the consultation, breaches could be used as evidence if people are prosecuted for cruelty to animals. "This means no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating an animal," noted the environment secretary, Hilary Benn.

The government advises against taking dogs for walks in hot weather or feeding them less than an hour before vigorous exercise in order to avoid "bloating". Long-haired dogs should be groomed at least once a day and all dogs should have teeth cleaned with dog chews or canine toothpaste as part of routine care.

Along with much other useful advice, cat owners are told to provide suitable toys and entertainment. "You should ensure that your cat has enough mental stimulation from you and from its environment to avoid boredom and frustration. It is your responsibility to provide opportunities for your cat to satisfy all of its behavioural needs, such as play and companionship."

Bill Wiggin, the Opposition spokesman on animal welfare, said the new codes are "absurd". "DEFRA are taking people for fools," he said. ~ BBC, Nov 4; London Telegraph, Nov 5