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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Guide to Animal Welfare Law in the U.K. Touches on New Conception of Animal Offences

Staci Strobl

The Cat Group, the collaborative group of animal charities and organisations working on cat health and welfare, 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 UK 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 UK 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.  In addition, Angus Nurse and Diane Ryland's research report can be found at the Middlesex University and University of Lincoln institutional repositories online.

Dr Angus Nurse is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University School of Law  and a member of the Crimcast Board of Advisors. Diane Ryland, LLB LLM, is a Senior Lecturer in the Law School and has taught European Union (EU) Law at the University of Lincoln.