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Animal Welfare Act 2006


Section 2: “Protected animal”

13.This section, together with section 3, establishes the scope of the principal offences under the Act, by defining those animals which the Act will cover. The cruelty and fighting offences (Sections 4 – 8) extend to “protected animals” as defined in this section, whereas the welfare offence (Section 9) applies to animals for which a person is “responsible” as that word is to be understood under section 3.

14.Animals of a kind commonly domesticated in the British Islands are to be “protected animals”, whether they can be said to be under the control of man or not. This ensures that, for example, stray dogs and feral cats are covered. Kinds of animals which are to be considered commonly domesticated in the British Islands are those whose collective behaviour, life cycle, or physiology has been altered as a result of their breeding and living conditions being under human control, in the British Islands, for multiple generations.

15.Animals of a kind not commonly domesticated in the British Islands are only “protected animals” to the extent that they are under the control of man or are not living independently in the wild. “Under control” is intended to be a broader expression than “captive animal”, which was used in an equivalent context in the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (“the 1911 Act”). The latter expression was interpreted narrowly in the courts. “Not living in a wild state” is intended to cover those animals which may have ceased to be under the control of man, and therefore do not fall within section 2(b), but are not yet living wild, including (though not limited to) animals which have escaped, for example from a zoo or circus.

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