Improving animal welfare enforcement

Working together to develop a new and effective animal welfare enforcement model

We value local authorities and their role in protecting and promoting animal welfare; they’re with us every day at the forefront of enforcing animal welfare legislation. 

From providing a stray dog service to prosecuting illicit puppy traders and licensing activities involving animals, local authorities are crucial partners working to protect and promote animal welfare. 

However, like many others, local authorities are struggling to make ends meet. Many are cutting back in the face of serious economic challenges, and others resort to offering bare minimum services. 

While we welcome and support additional animal welfare legislation from Westminster, such as the promised and yet-to-be-passed Kept Animals Bill, we’re concerned about the effectiveness of enforcing existing animal welfare legislation. 

Additional enforcement tools – such as penalty notices – are welcome, but they won’t end the postcode lottery of animal welfare enforcement services across England. 

Last year, APGAW, in partnership with the RSPCA, the Local Government Animal Welfare Group, and other animal welfare organisations, published the ‘Improving the Effectiveness of Animal Welfare Enforcement’ report. 

The report highlights the inconsistency of services people can rely on locally from their council for enforcing animal welfare. 

The RSPCA supports the contents and recommendations of the report, which calls for more support for councils to use dedicated, well-trained animal welfare officers to enforce the plethora of legislation impacting animals. 

We’re working closely with APGAW and other animal welfare organisations on the next stages of the report. You can read the report on APGAW’s website.

Much more can be done to build a collaborative partnership, such as establishing regional animal welfare forums with councils, the RSPCA, the police and other bodies in the community. 

Local authorities and councillors can help us improve animal welfare enforcement by:

  • Protecting funding of animal welfare services at a local authority level to protect and promote animal welfare. 

  • Implementing a shared services model by pooling resources and expertise to tackle the illicit puppy trade, improve animal welfare enforcement and reduce animal cruelty. 

  • Supporting and implementing further recommendations of APGAW’s report to improve the effectiveness of animal welfare enforcement.