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Animal Welfare Act 2006


3.The Act brings together and updates legislation that exists to promote the welfare of vertebrate animals, other than those in the wild. The categories of animals that are protected under the Act depend on the offence in question. For example, the duty to ensure an animal’s welfare only applies to animals that are owned or for which someone is otherwise responsible, but the cruelty and fighting offences have a wider application. The Act has only limited application to animals in research establishments, the welfare of which is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Act aligns welfare standards for farmed animals, which have generally kept in line with developments in scientific understanding, and non-farmed animals which are largely protected by laws formulated in the early twentieth century.

4.The legislation that this Act repeals is set out in Schedule 4.

5.A draft Bill was published in July 2004 (Cm 6252). The draft followed a public consultation conducted between 2 January 2002 and 30 April 2002. (Analysis of the responses to that consultation can be found on the Defra website at

6.In the second half of 2004, the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs carried out pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill. The Select Committee published its report on 8 December 2004 (HC 52-I and II). On 3 March 2005 EFRA published Defra’s response to the Committee’s report (HC 385). Both the Report and the response are available on the UK Parliament's website at:

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