DAERA publishes 2018 Animal Welfare Report

Date published: 19 December 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today published the 2018 Animal Welfare Statistical Report.

DARD report

Head of Animal Health and Welfare Policy in DAERA, Catherine Fisher, said: “The report highlights the work carried out in 2018 by the three bodies responsible for enforcing animal health and welfare in Northern Ireland: DAERA, local councils and the PSNI.

"It shows that Northern Ireland maintains an extensive and effective animal welfare enforcement regime and provides clear comparisons with previous years in relation to the number of animal welfare complaints received by each enforcement body and the subsequent follow up action taken.

“The report demonstrates that all three enforcement bodies utilised the full range of options available to them under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 to progress animal welfare cases or to take action to deal with alleged offences. Actions taken remain commensurate with the severity of welfare offences.”

Patricia Allen, Chair of the Animal Welfare Strategic Project Board, said: “Councils give a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and horses, and operate a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.

“Although the increase in the total of complaints received from the previous year was relatively small, there were 9,553 inspections carried out during 2018. In addition, a total of 42 prosecutions were completed, a significant increase on the previous year.

“Faced with this level of activity, councils have utilised the full range of enforcement options to achieve the best outcomes, including, where appropriate, prosecutions and disqualifications from the keeping of animals.”

Superintendent Brian Kee, the service lead for rural and wildlife crime in the PSNI said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland continues to take the responsibility for criminal activity with links to animal welfare seriously and conducts robust investigations into any such cases.

“There was an increase in the total number of animals seized in 2018 to 106 as opposed to 54 in 2017. The number of prosecutions which resulted in conviction in 2018 was 11, compared to 9 in 2017. 

“The PSNI will continue to work with our partners in DAERA and councils to ensure those responsible for animal cruelty are investigated accordingly.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Download the 2018 Animal Welfare Statistical Report.

2. Download more information about animal welfare advice and guidance.

3. The Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 makes provision for the protection of vertebrate animals in Northern Ireland, for example:

  • It specifies offences such as: the failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of an animal for which a person is responsible, are met; and taking action, or failing to take action that causes an animal to suffer unnecessarily.
  • It sets out powers available to Inspectors to ensure compliance with the Act, for example, powers to carry out inspections.
  • It enables Inspectors and Constables to take possession of an animal which is suffering or is likely to suffer.
  • It provides that a person can be deprived of possession or ownership of an animal on conviction for certain specified offences.

4. Enforcement officers investigate complaints and take action to ensure the owner or keeper complies with legislation. The penalties for animal welfare convictions include fines, liability for costs, community service and disqualifications from keeping animals. If the case warrants it, custodial sentences can be imposed.

5. In 2015, a review of the implementation of the 2011 Act recommended that DAERA should publish an annual report setting out information relevant to the public in relation to the animal welfare service provided by each of the three relevant enforcement bodies. This is the third such report. 

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7. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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