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Animal Welfare Charter

This Animal Welfare Charter is intended to be a living document and as such will be reviewed periodically.

It was first published in February 2005 with reviews undertaken in February 2006, March 2009, April 2011, February 2014 and November 2017.

This review is undertaken in February 2019

If you have any comments or suggestions to make with regard to this document, please telephone 01702 318148 or contact us using this form.

1. Introduction

Whilst the Council encourages an increased awareness throughout the district of the need to care for the welfare of animals, it recognises that not all matters are within its influence. This document therefore deliberately focuses on the areas where this Council has direct responsibility for animal welfare by stating what it considers a priority and where it can and will take action. The Charter will provide information concerning the Council activities as an employer, land owner, a property owner and enforcing authority for legislation that relates to licensed premises.

This charter has been designed to provide a clear local framework for action to deliver good animal welfare. It helps to define the role of the Council and its responsibilities for all those involved in the care of animals by:

  • Providing a clear focus and principles with which to prioritise future decisions on the provision and use of resources.
  • Requiring the improved capture of information on existing animal welfare standards and trends over time;
  • Leading to the effective enforcement of existing and any new regulations, bringing with it a proportionate and targeted enforcement approach.
  • Seeking not to add to administration burdens on businesses.
  • Encouraging partnership working between different agencies to deliver good animal welfare, with clarity about respective roles and responsibilities.

2.Animal Welfare Charter

The Council supports the view that all animals have a right to life free from cruel treatment and unnecessary suffering.

It recognises that animals are capable of feeling, capable of enjoying a state of well being and equally capable of suffering and therefore considers animals have the right to enjoy five basic freedoms:

  • Freedom from fear and distress.
  • Freedom from hunger and thirst.
  • Freedom from pain, disease and injury.
  • Freedom from unnecessary constraint.
  • Freedom from physical discomfort.

Hence the Council welcomed the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 that makes owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs of their animals are met.

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, injury, suffering and disease.

This charter does not cover every aspect of animal welfare, but it does aim to detail those areas that the Council considers important and where it feels it can have some influence as a responsible and representative public body.

The Council supports all current animal welfare legislation and requests that Members of Parliament support any legislation that will improve animal welfare conditions.

Statutory Duties

The Council has a statutory duty to licence certain establishments within the district, these being:

  • Pets Shops.
  • Dog Breeding Establishments.
  • Dog and Cat Boarding Establishments (Including Home Boarding).
  • Dog Day Care
  • Exhibition of animals
  • Hiring of horses
  • Owners of Dangerous Wild Animals.

The Council will continue to ensure that a qualified Veterinary Surgeon and the Council’s Licensing Officer inspect Hiring of horses and dog breeding on initial application of a licence and renewals and that the conditions of all licensed premises will be in line with the published guidance and  licence conditions.

The Council’s Licensing Officer will also carry out inspections all other animal licensing and renewals also unannounced inspections to ensure that standards are being maintained and that the licence conditions are being adhered to.

The Council will satisfy all its legal obligations towards the protection of animals in doing so, it will satisfy observe all appropriate standards of welfare in its direct dealing with animals.

Where the Council has a duty to enforce animal related legislation, it shall act in accordance with its Enforcement Guidance. Principals of good enforcement will be followed, with actions being proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted.

The Council’s Licensing Department will actively represent the authority on the Essex Animals Welfare Forum and will see to engage effectively with other voluntary and enforcement agencies at all levels.

The Council recognises the role of the Police, RSPCA and other reputable animal welfare charities in providing rescue facilities, ensuring freedom of suffering and prosecuting offenders. Wherever possible, and within the limits of available resources, the Council will seek to cooperate with these organisations to meet with the aims of the charter.

Rochford District Council will ensure that those staff members who interact with animals as a part of their duties are properly and appropriately trained, and have the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure appropriate standards of animal welfare. Where appropriate, such officers will attend update training to ensure that any changes in legislation, or advancement in knowledge of welfare issues, are acted upon and knowledge disseminated.

3. National Policies

Pet Shops

In accordance with the introduction of ‘Lucy’s Law’, Rochford District Council prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens not bred by the licence holder at any pet shops within the District. It is also a licence condition of pet shops within the District that animals must not be sold to anyone under the age of 16 years.


Micro chipping is a practical and painless way to identify your dog permanently. A microchip(which is about the size of a grain of rice) is inserted into the fatty tissue, just under the skin between a dogs shoulder blades. This is done using a needle and is very similar to your dog having a routine vaccination jab. The microchip contains a unique series of letters and numbers which are used to identify your dog.

After your dog is micro chipped, you fill in a registration form with both your details and those of your dog. This form is sent to a central registration point and stored on a computer.

If ever you lose your dog and it is found by one of the many animal agencies, such as Council dog wardens, veterinary surgeries or the RSPCA, it will be scanned, your dog identified and returned to you.

If your dog is micro chipped and found by our Council dog warden, your dog will be scanned and the dog warden will attempt to return it to you without having to take it to the kennels. It may be necessary to take your pet to the kennels for a short time if you are not available, but we would leave a message for you to contact us or our kennels.

Don't worry if you move house or change telephone number, you can always get your dogs details updated on the computer by contacting the registration centre.

If you want to get your dog micro chipped or need more information on micro chipping, please contact your own vet.

However, you should also make sure that your dog is wearing a collar with your name and address on it or on a plate or tag attached to the collar when it is in a public place. Not only are you required to do this by law, but if your dog is found by a member of the public, they will be able to contact you direct and return your dog to you without having to take it anywhere to be scanned. - Get Your Dog Microchipped

Stray Dogs and the Law

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environments Act 2005, from 6th April 2008 Rochford District Council had sole responsibility for providing a stray dog service to the public in the Rochford District Council Area. The Police no longer accept found dogs at the police station nor do they take reports of lost or found dogs.

During normal Office hours, stray dogs will be collected by the Councils contracted dog warden or can be taken directly to the Council kennels by the finder. Outside these hours, callers to the Councils out of hours service on 01268 527317 will be directed to an acceptance point where stray dogs will be cared for.

Please note: The Council is not required to provide a service to collect stray dogs out of hours.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 150 places an obligation on the finder of a stray dog to:

  • Return the dog to its owner or
  • Contact the local authority for the area in which the dog was found

If the finder fails to follow this procedure they will have committed an offence

4.Council Policies

Blood Sports

It is Council Policy that hunting is not allowed on Council owned land.

Circuses, Performances, Exhibitions and Displays of Animals

Having regard to the District Councils premises and land, either owned or managed, it is unlikely that they would be suitable for circuses, performances, exhibitions or displays of animals. However, it is Council policy that all applications to hold circuses, performances, exhibitions or displays of animals on any District Council land or premises will be considered individually and the decision to grant or refuse such applications will be based on a wide range of considerations, including animal welfare.

Giving Animals as prizes

It is Council policy that the conditions for 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 private premises or landowners to follow this lead.

Horse, Pony and Donkey Rides or exhibiting to an audience

Under the 2018 regulations hiring of horses or donkeys or the exhibition of animals must hold a animal activity licence

Domestic and Captive Animals


The Council liaises with other organisations to promote responsible dog ownership by:

  • Providing dogs faeces bins.
  • Promoting animal health education on dog faeces bins and within all Council operated car parks. - Controlling your dog in public

Stray Dogs

The Council has a contract with a local kennel for the collection of stray dogs between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday.

Outside these hours, finders of stray dogs can call the Council’s ‘Out of Hours’ Service, where they will be directed to take the dog to a reception centre for stray dogs.  All dogs will be thoroughly checked for identification in an attempt to return the dog to its owner. 

After seven days, the ownership of unclaimed stray dogs is assigned to the contacted kennel.  However, it is Council policy and a condition of the kennelling contract that all unclaimed stray dogs are re-homed, unless there is veterinary advice to the contrary or the dog is deemed to be unsuitable for re-homing due to its temperament.

Puppy Farming

The Council opposes puppy farming and supports the RSPCA in recommending that prospective dog owners purchase only puppies that are seen with their mothers. The Council would also encourage residents to consider rehoming a rescue dog rather than a puppy, in an effort to reduce the population of unwanted dogs.

Dog breeders must be licensed this process includes vet and licensing officer inspections. Licences can be checked on the Animal Establishment Licensing webpage or by calling 01702 318148


The Council encourages residents to be responsible cat owners and supports local animal welfare organisations in their efforts to educate and assist cat owners.

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 the 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.  Owners of cats, dogs, non-human primates and horses, ponies donkeys and their hybrids are recommended to familiarize themselves with the Codes of Practice for the welfare of these species that have been issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Once the pet has been acquired,  consideration to micro chipping, 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 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. Dog owners in particular are advised to familiarize themselves with the Council’s Dog Control Orders: The Fouling of Land by Dogs (Rochford) Order 2008; The Dogs on Leads (Rochford) Order 2008; The Dogs Exclusion (Rochford) Order 2008 and The Dogs on a lead by Direction (Rochford) Order 2008.

Animal Hoarding

An increasing number of cases are coming to light nationally where individuals, including some private animal sanctuaries, keep many animals in unsuitable conditions.  Anyone keeping large numbers of animals need to consider carefully whether they have adequate, suitable facilities, sufficient knowledge and resources to ensure the care for all the animals. Professional advice should be sought.  People are encouraged to report any suspected instances of animal hoarding to the RSPCA.

Pets in Council Accommodation

Since September 2007, the management of Rochford District Council housing and sheltered accommodation has been transferred to Rochford Housing Association (RHA). RHA allows tenants to have pets in permanent (not sheltered) accommodation, however if that accommodation does not have its own fenced garden, the tenant must have written permission from RHA to keep a dog.

If someone applies to Rochford District Council (RDC) for re-housing and they need to be moved into temporary accommodation, RDC will attempt to place them with a housing provider that allows pets in their properties.  However, tenants who are currently in temporary accommodation shall not acquire a pet (or replace one that has died) as this may prevent them from moving to permanent accommodation.

Rochford District Council will work with other social housing providers in the district to encourage the acceptance of pets within lettings policies should the opportunities arise.

Pets in Sheltered Housing Schemes

In order to maintain a clean and safe environment for everyone, pets such as dogs and cats are not allowed in sheltered schemes.  There is no objection to small pets such as budgerigars or other caged birds.  However, tenants in sheltered bungalows with their own private garden are allowed cats and dogs.  At present the only sheltered bungalows that RHA own with their own private gardens are at The Lavers, Hockley Road, Rayleigh. Specialist dogs such as guide dogs and hearing dogs are also permitted.

Pet Sitting Services

The Council encourages responsible pet ownership and recommends that pet owners use only licensed boarding establishments which are listed on the Councils web site and visit the service provider before placing your pet.


The Council will not allow the long term tethering of horses or ponies, in an open environment, on any land owned or managed by the Council.  Horses found tethered or straying on Council owned or managed land will be removed using the Council’s Stray or Tethered Horse Removal Procedure’.  In line with the RSPCA, the Council does not oppose an animal being tethered for short periods, e.g. for grooming or having a short break in a journey or working period.  Equally the Council would not oppose an animal being tethered in a field for a short period whilst boundary fencing was installed or repaired. The Council would wish to remind owners that a tethered horse requires adequate feed and, particularly, water.

Dangerous Wild Animals

The Council recommends that if people are selling or keeping animals listed on the schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and other dangerous and/or exotic animals, they should have specialist knowledge and/or seek professional advice on the care of these animals as some of these animals can grow very large, live for a long time and can be a threat to life.  Owners of non-human primates are recommended to familiarize themselves with the Code of Practice for the welfare of privately kept non-human primates that have been issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).  The Council encourages the Government to increase the number of animals listed on the schedule of Dangerous Wild Animals and supports the rigorous enforcement of current legislation.


The Council supports measures to conserve wildlife and, in particular, draws attention to the following:

The control of animals released into the wild

The Council is concerned at the potential threat to British wildlife, pets and people by the release of non-native animals into the wild.  Expert advice should be sought so that the appropriate control should be taken.

Traps and Snares

The Council is opposed to the use of traps and snares. Where traps and snares are employed, the Council encourages the Government to strengthen legislation so as to reduce the suffering of the target species and the capture of non-target species.


The Council supports legislation that protects bats and their roosts


The Council recommends that anglers follow the code of practice based on the recommendations of the Medway report. The key recommendations being:

  1. The use of double and treble hooks should be kept to a minimum. These should be avoided entirely when the intention is to return the catch alive to the water.
  2. Fish intended for food should be killed humanely.
  3. Unhooking a fish humanely and safely is one of the most important skills for an angler to learn. All anglers should be equipped with disgorgers and unhooking mats and be properly trained in their use.
  4. Employment of the pike-gag should take fully into account the size of the fish for which it is used.
  5. Barbless hooks should be favoured.
  6. Holding periods in keep-nets should be as brief as possible.

The Council considers it essential that fishing tackle is safely disposed of to prevent injury to both domestic and wild animals and that undersized fish should be returned to the water as quickly as possible.

All anglers are encouraged to ensure that they comply with national and regional byelaws relating to angling.  Details of these byelaws can be found by visiting the Environment Agency website

The Environment Agency has produced a useful free leaflet ‘Angling and Wildlife, Golden Rules‘ which can be obtained by contacting 08708 506 506. Alternatively pages from this leaflet can be viewed on the Environment Agency website

Pest control

The Council promotes and supports the use of safe and humane methods of pest control only.

The Council encourages householders to seek professional advice on pest control, rather than over the counter preparations, to prevent harm to non- target species, humans and the environment.


Overpopulation of pigeons in built up areas can cause health and safety problems.

The Council encourages the safe and hygienic disposal of all waste, especially fast food waste products to prevent such overpopulation. Where the pigeon population has to be controlled, only humane methods will be used.


Through the delivery of the planning process, the Council is committed to using the mechanisms in the planning system to ensure that animals, plants and their habitats are afforded the appropriate level of protection in accordance with their protected status.

Parks/Open Spaces

The Council makes minimum use of pesticides in all Council controlled public open spaces and encourages the introduction of wildlife and fauna into these areas by sympathetic management and the display of notices explaining this type of management to visitors.  Weed control is by approved methods only. The expansion of such areas within the district is an on-going project.


The Council encourages householders to use only authorised pesticides that will do no harm to the flora and fauna in the district. Members of the public should check for an up to date list of authorised pesticides (information can be found at – 01904 455775).


Litter is not only unsightly, but much of it, such as multi-pack plastic can ties, tin cans and plastic bags can cause harm to both domestic and wild animals. Therefore the Council strongly recommends that all litter is disposed of safely in the facilities that it provides for this purpose throughout the district.

It is Council Policy not to allow mass balloon releases from any Council premises or land in an effort to reduce litter caused when the balloons float back to earth and due the potentially lethal effect that this litter has on wildlife, both land and water based.


The Council does not permit guns on any Council owned public open space, woodlands, parks or country parks.

Experiments on Living Animals

The Council encourages the Government to look into the use of alternative methods of research not involving animals. The Council also recognises that it is irresponsible and not in the interests of the animal for laboratory animals to be released into the wild where it may not be able to fend for itself.

Factory Farming

The Council regrets the use of intensive/factory farming and would seek that a kinder approach to farming be adopted and requests that Members of Parliament support any legislation that will improve animal welfare conditions.  The Council encourages consumers to check food labelling very carefully and to seek assistance from store managers if they are unsure of their meaning in an effort to encourage a kinder approach to farming.

Transport of Food Animals

The Council believes that the live export of food animals is not necessary and that the slaughter of animals should take place as close to where they are reared as possible.

The Council supports the role of Trading Standards in enforcing roadside checks of livestock in transit to ensure compliance with legislation designed to protect animal welfare.

The Council supports Police action with regards to the enforcing of speed restrictions of vehicles transporting live animals and requests that enforcement be more rigorously applied.

Animal Cruelty

Those dealing with children or vulnerable adults, who have suffered physical and/or mental abuse, recognise that there is a link between animal and ‘people’ cruelty. Indeed, a protocol exists between social services staff and the RSPCA in some local authority areas, whereby there is an exchange of information, and careful monitoring of those will follow.

This Council believes that there should be a requirement on local authorities to establish and operate such a protocol, and that police forces should also be part of such agreements, so that every effort can be made to prevent cruelty wherever it might arise.

The Council encourages the Government to support all research by other agencies on the link between animal/child and vulnerable adult abuse in an effort to reduce both animal cruelty and serious crime.

Rochford District Council does not have sufficient resources to investigate animal welfare issues unless they relate to a licensed establishment.  Any animal welfare or cruelty concerns of unlicensed premises need to be reported to the RSPCA’s 24 hour cruelty line

0300 1234 999

The Council’s Licensing Officer’s role is the licensing of:-

  • dog and Cat boarding establishments
  • dog breeding establishments
  • Dog day care
  • Exhibition of animals
  • pet shops
  • Hiring of horses
  • owners dangerous wild animals
  • zoos

Please telephone 01702 318148 for enquiries regarding inspections of licensed premises and complaints regarding licensed establishments.

5. Council Purchasing/Education


It is the personal choice of a person to eat meat or not. The Council should aim to use cruelty-free, animal-friendly produce at all Council run functions or where it has an influence. In addition to this, at least one vegetarian alternative will appear on all menus and vegan food will be made available on request.

It is Council policy to use only free range whole eggs in any catering supplied to or by the Council and to actively promote this policy externally.


The Council supports the enforcement of legislation such as the Licensing of shops selling fireworks and the limit of hours that fireworks are permitted to be used.  This enforcement is carried out by Essex County Council Trading Standards and Essex Police. The Council would support the limiting of the permitted noise level of fireworks to 95dB to minimise the distress caused to animals.


The Council updates pages on the Councils website. It provides information on animal welfare legislation, advice and links to useful related websites.