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Responsible Pet Ownership

The Council strongly advises that anyone thinking of getting a pet should have good knowledge and /or take professional advice on the care of such animals before getting a pet. It is a licence condition of pet shops within the District, that pet care leaflets or other similar written instructions must be made available to customers free of charge at the time of purchase and that proper advice on the care of the animal must be given.

Once the pet has been acquired, responsible pet ownership should include means of identifying the owner of the animal (e.g. micro-chipping), consideration to neutering the animal to prevent unwanted pregnancies, regular health checks, including vaccinations where required and the safe and hygienic disposal of all animal waste.

Pet owners must be aware of their responsibilities under the Animal Welfare act 2006. Not only is it against the law to be cruel to an animal, but owners must also ensure that the welfare needs of their pets must be met (Animal Welfare Act 2006 section 9). These include the need:

  • for a suitable environment (place to live)
  • for a suitable diet
  • to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • to be housed with or apart from other animals (if applicable)
  • to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The law also increases the minimum age a person can buy an animal to 16 and prohibits giving animals as prizes to unaccompanied children under this age. You should also be aware that it is Rochford District Council policy that the conditions of hiring or letting any of the Councils facilities - premises or land - shall include a clause specifically banning the provision of live creatures, animals or fish, as prizes. The Council encourages other land owners to follow this lead.

Owners of cats; dogs; privately kept non-human primates and horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids should also be aware that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has introduced Codes of Practice for the welfare of these species. Although a breach of a provision contained in these codes is not an offence itself, if proceedings are brought against an owner/keeper for an offence under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act, the court will look at whether or not the owner/keeper of the animal has complied with the code in deciding if an offence has been committed. Please see related links to down load copies of these Codes of Practice.

Many pet owners now take their pets on holiday with them, with this in mind; DEFRA has produced an advice leaflet for owners of cats and dogs on protecting their welfare during journeys. A copy of this leaflet can be found in related links. Further information on travelling with pets can be found by visiting the DEFRA website.

Pet owners are encouraged to control their animals properly to avoid the possibility of them causing annoyance or distress to members of the public or other animals.