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Companion animals and the law

McBride, E.A. (2006) Companion animals and the law At British Veterinary Nursing Association Annual Conference 2006. 13 - 15 Oct 2006.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)


It is the hope of many professionals in the animal world that pet owners are responsible. ‘Responsible pet ownership’ is a term often used and one which has many aspects. These include not only the welfare of the animal in question, but also that of people and of other animals. In human society, the underlying ethics of what is considered reasonable behaviour is often made clear by the setting of rules and regulations of the group or, more formally, such rules are strengthened and laid down as laws. There is a great deal of such legislation that relates to the ownership of animals. With respect to companion animals, these are not species specific, as there are no companion animal species per se. The Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) defines a companion animal as an animal, of any species, that is “kept by private individuals or groups for companionship, interest or hobby, and for breeding supply or education related to their keeping for these purposes.” (
The veterinary surgery is in an enviable position to act as a conduit for the education of owners in various aspects of animal management and welfare. It is also important that advice is available for potential owners regarding what species or breed may be most suitable for their lifestyle. This aspect of ‘planning for a pet’ is a service that could usefully be promoted to the public in general, as many purchases (of all sorts of species) are impulse buys; often with undesired consequences for both animal and owner. However, whether advising potential or current owners, it is essential that such advice is fully informed. Covering aspects of the animal’s physical and psychological needs is essential but not sufficient. Another major aspect is how the law affects pet ownership, both nationally and locally. In addition, surgeries should be aware of the potential legal implications of ‘advertising’ services on their notice boards that they personally have not assessed. Such advertisements can be interpreted as recommendations. Again it is important that assessment of services, as with any recommendation, is conducted from an informed position.
In this talk, a brief review will be given of major aspects of British law that affect owners of dogs and other species, including current changes in welfare legislation. Suggestions will be made of how the Veterinary Nurse can assist clients in understanding their legal obligations relating to pet ownership, where to go for further information, and how to seek appropriate assistance should they need it if they and their pet fall foul of the strong arm of the law!

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Published date: 2006
Venue - Dates: British Veterinary Nursing Association Annual Conference 2006, 2006-10-13 - 2006-10-15
Keywords: Companion Animals, Law, Pets, Welfare


Local EPrints ID: 55238
PURE UUID: ddd76689-8214-4257-9b3e-3674ac2fcc54

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Date deposited: 30 Jul 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:33

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Author: E.A. McBride

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