Animal welfare

If you are concerned that an animal is not being take care of by their owners, you can report it. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 a person who is responsible for an animal must make sure that their needs are met. Where these are not being met, the animal might suffer and the person(s) may be prosecuted.

Types of welfare concerns

Owners need to make sure that the animal has:

A suitable environment

Animals should have suitable shelter, comfy and reasonable bedding, secure and safe housing without hazards which could cause injury. Fish, aquatic and semi-aquatic animals should have good water quality. Their environment should be clean.

A suitable diet

Animals need to have the right kind of food containing the correct nutrients. Some foods can be poisonous and if they do not get the right levels of nutrients they can become poorly or develop long term defects.

To be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns

Animals should not show fear, distress or anxiety. Where this is seen, we should remove the cause to stop animals feeling like this for longer than they have to.

Boredom can also cause animals to show unnatural behaviours like pacing, wall bouncing and head bobbing. These are known as stereotypical behaviours. Animals which are kept in conditions without exercise and enrichment will develop these behaviours and the longer they do them, the harder it is for them to stop.

To be housed with, or apart from other animals

Sometimes animals do not live in pairs or groups harmoniously and require separation to prevent injury or distress, such as Syrian hamsters. Some animals should not be housed together or near each other because they are considered predator and prey species, for example birds of prey and small mammals.

There are some species of animal which require company of their own kind to live happily and are referred to as social species. Some social species of animal include horses, some species of birds, rabbits (housed with other rabbits) and guinea pigs (housed with other guinea pigs).

To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Animals should be prevented from experiencing pain, becoming injured, suffering or contracting a disease. Whilst accidents may occur, it is important that animals receive the appropriate treatment and pain relief as quickly as possible. Many diseases are also preventable by vaccinating animals, practising good hygiene or using parasite prevention.

Working with the RSPCA

Offences under the act carry penalties of up to five years imprisonment, a criminal record or an unlimited fine. Persons convicted of offences may also receive a ban from keeping animals.

The RSPCA are the primary organisation dedicated to improving the welfare of animals and rescuing animals in need. Reports of cruelty can be reported to the RSPCA. We work with the RSPCA in relation to cases of poor animal welfare in the borough and it helps us to tackle issues more effectively when we are made aware of these cases too.

You can report your concern if the RSPCA have told you to make the report to us. We may not be able to investigate all matters which are reported to us, but we will aim to share the report with agencies who may be able to assist.

Report a concern

What happens next

Once you’ve submitted your report, it will be reviewed and assessed within three working days and are dealt with on a priority basis.

If you have agreed to provide a witness statement to support enforcement action, an officer will discuss this when they contact you. We aim to respond to all reports within 10 working days.

If you wish to provide further information or evidence to support your report, please email us quoting your reference number.

If you have agreed to allow your report to be shared with partner agencies, they may contact you directly.

Officers investigating can take a range of actions including:

  • giving advice
  • issuing verbal and written warnings
  • issuing improvement notices
  • taking animals into their possession
  • prosecution


Wildlife welfare concerns are separate to domestic animals, more information can be found on our wildlife page.

If you have any other animal related enquiries please email us.