Animal health and welfare

There is a wide range of legislation in the UK designed to protect the health and welfare of both domesticated and wild animals.

Animal health and welfare legislation is currently enforced jointly by Stevenage Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards department and the Department for  Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in association with other government bodies and independent organisations like the RSPCA.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006, which came into force at the end of March 2007, makes anyone who owns or looks after a pet responsible for ensuring that the five basic welfare needs of the animal are met. These are:

  • A proper diet
  • Somewhere suitable to live
  • Any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • Allowing animals to express normal behaviour
  • Protect from and treatment of, illness and injury

Anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal under the Act faces a fine of up to £20,000 and/or 6 months in prison. Owners can also be banned from keeping animals, possibly for life. If you suspect that an animal is not being properly treated, call the RSPCA’s 24 hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.

What Stevenage Borough Council does:

Licensing of:

  • Pet Shops
  • Horse Riding Establishments
  • Dog Breeding Establishments
  • Animal Boarding Establishments
  • Dangerous Wild Animals
  • Zoos

What Hertfordshire Trading Standards does:

  • Registering and movement of livestock
  • Animal disease control
  • Welfare of animals at markets etc.

What Defra does:

  • National Animal Health and Welfare Strategy
  • Animal Welfare at Farms, Markets, Slaughterhouses
  • The Pet Travel Scheme
  • International Trade in Animals
  • Animal Diseases - Control and Surveillance, BSE, Tuberculosis, Scrapie, Foot and Mouth Disease
  • Animal by-products
  • Wildlife Conservation and Biodiversity
  • Wildlife Crime

DEFRA Helpline: 08459 33 55 77

Useful links

DEFRA  - Animal Health and Welfare information

Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards


Contact details

Environmental Health & Licensing
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House
Herts, SG1 1HN

01438 242908 / 242916