It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause unnecessary suffering to livestock or domestic animals. When determining what is ‘unnecessary suffering’ there are a number of factors to consider, including:
- whether the suffering could reasonably have been avoided or reduced;
- whether the conduct which caused the suffering was in compliance with any relevant enactment or any relevant provisions of a licence or code of practice issued under an enactment;
- whether the suffering was proportionate to the purpose of the conduct concerned;
- whether the conduct concerned was in all the circumstances that of a reasonably competent and humane person.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 does not apply to animals living in their wild sate. Everyone should take reasonable steps to avoid any animal suffering. The council may investigate reports of the intentional or malicious setting off of fireworks for the purpose of causing unnecessary suffering to farm livestock.
The owner of an animal is always regarded as having primary responsibility for their welfare and must take all reasonable steps to prevent unnecessary suffering.