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VEGA Comments on an Animal Welfare Legislation - 05/12/2006
 
Proposed Changes to Animal Welfare Legislation in Northern Ireland
Proposed Changes to Animal Welfare Legislation in Northern Ireland

The definition of "Animal"

Q1. Do you agree with the definition of animal as “vertebrate animals, other than man”?

No, see below

Q2. Do you agree with inclusion of powers to make subordinate (secondary) legislation to amend range of animals to which new legislation would apply when or if scientific knowledge demonstrated that this is appropriate?

No. There are indications that invertebrates do feel pain and distress and they should be included right now allowing for mercy and the precautionary principle, not later. Invertebrates have the capacity to detect and respond to noxious or aversive stimuli and will try to escape or withdraw from e.g. changes in temperature beyond the animal's normal range, contact with noxious chemicals, mechanical interference, or electric shock. All of these might be expected to cause pain in humans.

Definition of “Protected Animal”

Q3. Do you agree with the definition of a protected animal?

Yes


Responsibility for an Animal

Q4. Do you agree with the definition of who is responsible for an animal?

Yes, with the addition of custodians

Unnecessary Suffering

Q5. Do you agree with the need to extend the definition of unnecessary suffering?

To cause pain to an animal is cruelty, unless it can occur in therapies for the animal’s good. The word is unnecessary and confusing

Mutilation

Q6. Do you agree there should be an extension of legislation restricting the docking of dogs’ tails?

Yes

Q7. If so, should this practice be banned altogether, or restricted to certain breeds of dog, or to only those dogs actively employed as working dogs?

It should be banned altogether and only allowable by vet for therapeutic purposes.

Administration of Poisons

Q8. Do you agree with the additional powers to make it an offence to administer substances that are otherwise harmless when administered in a harmful quantity or method?

Yes

Animal Fighting

Q9. Do you agree that powers should be extended to include offences in respect of betting on animal fighting an offence?

Yes

Q10. Do you agree that powers should be extended to make it clear that fighting between man and animals is illegal?

Yes

Q11. Are there outstanding issues with respect to animal fighting that should be considered in new legislation?

Use in experiments (e.g. science and psychology) and in videos, TV programs of fighting (wherever the action occurred – unless it can be shown for strictly documentary purposes).

Q12. Do you believe that this (videoing an animal fight) is an issue in Northern Ireland, about which legislation should be produced?

Yes

Making Films involving Animal Cruelty

Q13. Is there a specific need to extend rules in respect of making films involving cruelty to animals?

Yes, see answers to Q11 and Q12

An Obligation to Ensure Good Welfare

Q14. Do you agree with the need to extend powers to ensure anyone responsible for an animal has a duty to ensure the welfare of that animal?

Yes.

Q15. Do you agree with the proposal to introduce improvement notices?

Yes

Transfer of Animals by Sale or Prize to Persons Under 16

Q16. Do you agree with the setting of a minimum age (of 16 years) of a person to which pets can be sold or given as gifts?

Yes. Crafts and sales only to purchases proving required competence and appropriate licence. See answer to Q14

Giving Animals as Prizes

Q17. Do you consider it appropriate to legislate for the giving of animals as prizes?

Yes, it is essential

Q18. If so, should powers be sought to ban this practice or to set a minimum age (16 years) of a person to whom an animal can be given as a prize or should this practice be banned completely?

Yes, although there might be some controlled exemptions for farm shows

Licensing or Registration of Activities Involving Animals

Q19. Do you agree that the Department should seek powers to make legislation to license or register a wider range of activities involving animals than are currently in the legislation (see paragraph 37), including those listed in paragraph 38?

Yes, all animal collections or gatherings should be included

Q20. Are there are any activities involving animals, which you consider should or should not require licensing?

All interactions of over 3 days’ continuity need control and licensing. Licenses need frequent renewal (e.g. every year). Removal of licences can be extended to all species beyond those in which offence occurred

Q21. With reference to circuses and the use of animals in performing acts, is there a need to consider legislating to ban the use in travelling circuses of certain non-domesticated species whose welfare needs cannot be satisfactorily met in that environment as is currently being taken forward in GB?

Yes

Q22. Are there outstanding issues with respect to the use of animals in performing acts in addition to regulation of travelling circuses?

Yes

Q23. Are there are any activities involving animals, which you consider should not require licensing, but would better suit a registration system?

No

Q24. Do you agree with the likely range of powers that should be included in primary legislation that will allow the Department to make legislation to license additional activities involving animals?

Q21-24 We hope that Zoo Check is included in this consultation and that they will answer these questions

Dog Breeding

Q25. Do you agree that the new powers that will allow the Department to make legislation to license activities involving animals (as highlighted in paragraph 38) should include the licensing of breeding establishments to provide further welfare protection in line with powers already in place in GB (whereby the new rules will be consulted on separately as with other activities involving animals)?

Yes, complete concordance in E, W. Scotland, and N Ireland required and ultimately to highest EU standards

Q26. Are there specific issues that should be considered in any new rules in respect of dog (and cat) breeding establishments, beyond those set out in paragraphs 44 -45?

Provisions for racing dogs and homing are relevant here. Rights of entry for RSPCA (or equivalent) relevant

Q27. Are there any outstanding issues with respect to the transit of puppies from or through NI that should be considered in drafting new legislation?

Registration for transit of all animals should apply generically, e.g. for age, temporary control, comfort, prevention of injury, trauma, fear, bruising, and applied regardless of origin and destination e.g. when N Ireland is just a land bridge

Greyhound Racing

Q28. Do you believe that any new powers that will allow the Department to make legislation to license additional activities involving animals (as highlighted in paragraph 38) should include the licensing of the welfare aspects of greyhound racing?

Yes, hunting of animals excluded from present Hunting Acts, as well as fishing, especially catch and return

Q29. Are there specific issues that should be considered in drafting new rules in respect of the welfare aspects of greyhound racing, beyond those set out in paragraphs 49-51 (whereby the new rules will be consulted on separately as with other activities involving animals)?

See earlier answers

Powers of Seizure

Q30. Do you agree with the powers that an inspector or a police officer could have to deal with animals in distress?

They should be trained in First Aid up to standards generically applicable to humans

Q31. Do you agree with the powers that are available to courts to deal with animals taken into possession?

Yes, exempt for being destroyed. (56. • being destroyed, where currently courts have the power to destroy an animal where it is satisfied that it would be cruel to keep it alive, and only after an owner of an animal has been convicted of an offence of cruelty under the 1972 Act.)

Seizure of Animals Involved in Fighting etc.

Q32. Do you believe that it is appropriate for powers of seizure of animals be extended to those animals involved in fighting?

Yes, and duty of care after seizure

Imprisonment or Fine

Q33. Do you agree in the need to provide for a range of penalties to cover different offences?

Yes

Deprivation/Disqualification

Q34. Do you agree with the extension of provisions of deprivation Orders?

Yes

Q35. Do you agree with the need for new provisions that will allow a court to place conditions on how many animals a person can keep following conviction under animal welfare legislation?

Yes

Forfeiture of Equipment Used in Offences

Q36. Do you agree with the proposal for new provisions on forfeiture?

Yes

Enforcement Responsibilities

Q37. Do you believe that new legislation should look to provide a greater role for local councils in enforcement of animal welfare legislation, particularly in respect of licensing or registering activities involving animals?

Yes
 
 
 

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