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AN animal welfare ‘milestone’ was reached in Northern Ireland on February 22 when the Welfare of Animals Bill was given final approval by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The new Welfare of Animals Act will replace the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 and aims to prevent unnecessary suffering to any vertebrate animal. It also sets out obligations on people to promote the welfare of animals, including domestic pets, for which they are responsible and imposes a ‘duty of care’ on owners or keepers of non-farmed animals. It provides powers to allow action to be taken to prevent unnecessary suffering rather than having to wait until an animal actually suffers. Other new powers provide for the issuing of improvement notices, which must be complied with to improve the welfare of animals.
The new legislation also bans the docking of dogs' tails, except when it is justified as part of medical treatment by a vet or …