Overview / Significance
- This Act is legislation against cruelty.
- Applies to any domestic or captive animal.
- "Captive" includes any non-domestic species not only of mammals but also
birds, reptiles and fish, which are in captivity or under restraint such as caging or
pinioning, to keep them confined.
- Temporary prevention of escape and temporary inability to escape (such inability not
being caused by man) do not constitute captivity.
- Under section 1 of the main Acts it is illegal cruelly to ill treat or, being the owner,
to permit ill treatment of an animal in specified ways such as beating, terrifying and
- "cruelly" is equated with "so as to cause unnecessary suffering"
- It is an offence under the Acts to wantonly or unreasonably cause unnecessary suffering
to an animal, by overt acts and also by omissions, e.g. failure to provide necessary food,
water, care or veterinary attention.
- Other offences under section 1 of the Acts include:
- the transportation of an animal in a way which causes it unnecessary suffering.
- animal fighting and baiting.
- deliberate poisoning of an animal without reasonable cause.
- operations performed on an animal without due care and humanity.
- failure of the owner of an animal to exercise reasonable care and supervision over it to
protect it from cruelty.
- It is an offence to use confined live vertebrate prey including fish, to train captive
animals to hunt.
- "Although the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to
1964 do not prohibit the feeding of animals with live prey, the live feeding of vertebrate
prey should be avoided save in exceptional circumstances, and then only under veterinary
advice. Where any live prey must be used, its welfare must be considered as well as any
potential injury which might be caused to the predator." (D15 - Secretary of State's Standards of
Modern Zoo Practice)
- Treatment of amphibians, fish and invertebrates (not covered by the Veterinary Surgeon's Act 1966) must comply with
the Protection of Animals Acts 1911-2000;
these require an operation to be carried out with due care and humanity and without
(J35.147.w1, B142.4.w4, B156.21.w21,
UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care Implications
- Police, coastguards and rescue staff can ensure that a live stranded cetacean is not
harassed, with recourse to the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (1912 in Scotland) which
protects captive animals from acts of commission and omission which cause suffering, as it
is possible that stranded cetaceans might be considered captive. (D23)
- The Act requires that treatment on an animal be carried out without
causing the animal "unnecessary suffering" and that surgical operations are
performed with due care and humanity. (B142.4.w4).
- A person who legally takes a wild animal may claim it as his or her property while it is
restrained in a pen/enclosure or remains with the owner or on his/her land. (J35.147.w1, B142).
- Problems may arise if the "owner" brings an animal to a treatment centre and
subsequently is dissatisfied with the treatment (which may include euthanasia) given to
that animal. (J35.147.w1)
- A standard form is advisable for rehabilitation centres/vets to be signed by a person
depositing an animal, indicating a transfer of "ownership" of the animal to the
rehabilitator/vet. However this may not have a very strong legal standing. (J35.147.w1)