Animal Welfare Offences

The RSPCA Inspectors investigate more than 130,700 complaints of animal cruelty and neglect every year in the UK.

The Animal Welfare Act in 2006 was put in place for the protection of animals and to make sure owners take positive steps to ensure the wellbeing of their pets. These are the five welfare needs:

  • need for a suitable environment;
  • need for a suitable diet;
  • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns;
  • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals;
  • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

If these needs are not met, the RSPCA can either advise and educate the owner, give a formal warning or if necessary, a prosecution can be carried out to ensure the animal does not suffer.

It can often be difficult to determine whether you’ve just witnessed animal cruelty. Some signs of animal cruelty are neglect, failure to provide basic needs, lack of shelter, hoarding, lack of veterinary care, tethering, abandonment, direct abuse such as hitting, animal fighting to pets left in cars. Alternatively, spotting open wounds, multiple scars, limping or difficulty walking on an animal could also be signs of ongoing animal cruelty.

Many people do not realise that when treated as a suspect under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, you are entitled to legal advice, especially where you are interviewed under Caution whether by police or a RSPCA Investigator.

The RSPCA may bring private prosecutions to refer cases to the Crown Prosecution Service for criminal proceedings to be instigated.


by Eumin Min Na – Student Intern

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