Animal Welfare Act 2007
The new Animal Welfare Act is the most innovative piece of animal
legislation for almost 100 years. In real terms it means that the law now
has the teeth to intervene before cruelty has been inflicted upon an animal,
by placing a 'duty of care' on the owner / guardian of all pet animals.
When does the new law come into effect?
From 6 April 2007 in England, and in Wales from 27 March, animal welfare law
is being improved.
It is still against the law to be cruel to an animal. But now you must also
ensure that all the welfare needs of your animals are met.
What does the new law do?
It makes owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs
of their animals are met.
These include the need:
- For a suitable environment (place to live)
- For a suitable diet
- To exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- To be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable)
- To be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease
- The new law also increases to 16 the minimum age at which a person can buy
an animal and prohibits giving animals as prizes to unaccompanied children
under this age.
Anyone who is cruel to an animal, or does not provide for its welfare needs,
may be banned from owning animals, fined up to £20,000 and/or sent to
What does it mean to me and my rabbit?
It's not acceptable to keep a solitary rabbit in a small hutch, without the
opportunity to exercise. Sadly we know that this is still the case for
thousands of pet rabbits in the UK, as they are the most neglected domestic
pet. Make sure that you are providing your rabbits with everything they need
to live a long and happy life.
The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund suggest the following to properly
care for your pet rabbits:
Hutches should be a minimum of 6ft x 2ft x 2ft, and preferably with an
attached run to allow the rabbits to exercise at will. The run should be 6ft
x 4ft x 4ft as a minimum. Hutch size and runs can never be too big, so don't
Further details about environment for rabbits. HERE
Fresh food and water should be available at all times. A diet that mimics a
natural diet, that is one which is mainly hay or grass, with a smaller
proportion of greens and rabbit pellets is ideal. Any changes to the diet
should be made gradually watching out for upset tummies and closely checking
at least once if not twice a day for flystike.
Further details about diet. HERE
Rabbits like to dig, run and hide. They should be provided with the
opportunity to exercise everyday. Ideally a run attached to their hutch, or
even better a garden shed with attached enclosure. Don't forget to include
toys that allow them to display their natural behaviour such as hay/willow
toys for chewing, a planter filled with earth for digging and a place to
hide if they want to.
Further details about the needs of rabbits. HERE
Further details about companionship. HERE
Further details about aggression in rabbits. HERE
Rabbits are sociable animals and should be kept in pairs or groups, unless a
house rabbit with lots of human contact. The companionship and social
interaction provided by another rabbit is ideal and much more suitable than
housing with another species such as a guinea pig which we would not as a
Further details about companionship. HERE
Further details about House rabbits. HERE
Further details about choosing a rabbit. HERE
Further details about rabbits and children. HERE
Annual or twice yearly trips to the vets are a must for their vaccinations
(both for myxomatosis and VHD). Rabbits are prey animals and they hide pain
well, so be aware of any subtle changes in behaviour or diet and take them
to the vet immediately if you are worried. Regular mini MOT's at home can
provide invaluable ensuring teeth and nails are not overly long, your rabbit
isn't gaining or losing weight, and very importantly that once if not twice
a day you check your rabbits behind for signs of soiling to ensure that
flystrike can not become an issue.
Further information about neutering. HERE
Further information about vaccination. HERE
Further information about Flystrike. HERE
Further information abut long-haried rabbits. HERE
Originally Published by the RWA in a First alert Newsletter.
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