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Animal welfare
Reptiles and the Animal Welfare Act
  1. Martin L. Whitehead
  1. Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital, Banbury Road, Chipping Norton, Oxon OX7 5SY; e-mail:

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ROGER Blowey's understanding of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is that, even if suffering is confirmed, the owner/keeper is not guilty of causing unnecessary suffering if he/she could not have reasonably known that the animal was suffering (VR, November 5, 2016, vol 179, p 468). Main and others, in response, point out that the AWA states that an owner's conduct must be ‘that of a reasonably competent and humane person’ and that the court ‘needs to assess the actions taken in response to suffering, not assess the owner's awareness of the potential suffering’ (VR, November 12, 2016, vol 179, p 496).

Both are correct. If an owner (i) acts reasonably and humanely in keeping an animal, yet (ii) by so acting causes unnecessary suffering but (iii) could not reasonably have known that the animal was suffering, that owner is not guilty, under the AWA, of causing the unnecessary suffering. But, …

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