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New animal welfare legislation approved by NI Assembly

22 February 2011

The Northern Ireland Assembly has today approved the new Welfare of Animals Bill. The legislation which is expected to become law in April this year replaces the Welfare of Animals Act 1972. It is the first major review of animal welfare legislation in almost 40 years and will bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK which implemented similar legislation in 2006 in the form of the Animal Welfare Act and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act.
 
The key purpose of the Bill is to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals and provides powers to seriously penalise those who cause suffering and harm. The Bill affords new powers in dealing with dog fighting and will also ban the docking of dogs’ tails. The League is disappointed however that the Bill stops short of a complete ban and allows for an exemption for working dogs.
 
The League’s Northern Ireland campaigner Mary Friel said: “This is a huge step forward for animal welfare in Northern Ireland. This together with the new Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill currently progressing though Stormont is fantastic progress and recognition that animals must be protected by law from harm and suffering.”

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