Animal welfare

Owning and caring for an animal can be a source of great enjoyment. It is also a big responsibility. Find out how to take care of animals and what to do if you are concerned about an animal’s welfare.

 

Caring for animals

If you own or are responsible for an animal, you must make sure that all of its needs are met, including:

  • a suitable environment
  • a suitable diet
  • the opportunity to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • being  housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • being protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The following tips and advice will help you to take care of your pet's needs and also highlights the rules that you need to be aware of in Northern Ireland:

If you fail to meet your pet's welfare needs or cause unnecessary suffering, you could be prosecuted.

Parents or guardians of children under 16 are responsible for any animal that child owns or is in charge of. If you can’t take care of your animal at any time, you must make arrangements for someone else to look after it.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has produced codes of practice to help you understand your animal’s needs.

If you are unsure about any aspect of taking care of an animal, you should seek advice from an expert. You can find your local veterinary practice using the link below.

If you're concerned about an animal’s welfare

If you are concerned that animals, including pets and farmed animals, are not being taken care of properly by their owners, you can report it. You can also report concerns about the welfare of wild animals, wildlife crime or criminal activity involving animals, such as dog fighting.

The organisation responsible depends on the type of animal involved and in some cases, the nature of the welfare issue. Find out who to contact below.

Pets and non-farmed animals – local councils

Contact your local council if you are concerned about the welfare of domestic pets, including horses, and non-farmed animals:

Farmed animals – DAERA

Contact DAERA if you are concerned about the welfare of farmed animals or animals kept in riding establishments, boarding kennels, pet shops or zoos.

Weekends – contact your local private veterinary practice or police station who will pass the information to a DAERA officer:

Wild animals and criminal activity involving animals - PSNI

Contact the PSNI if you are concerned about the welfare of wild animals or suspect wildlife crime, for example:

  • badger baiting
  • bird of prey persecution
  • destroying or disturbing bat roosts
  • release into the wild of a non-native species
  • trapping wildlife illegally
  • trade in endangered species
  • poisoning of birds
  • deer poaching

Also contact the PSNI if an animal (other than a wild animal) is wandering on the road or if an animal is being used for other criminal related activity, for example, dog fighting.

After you report a welfare concern

Officers investigating complaints can take a range of actions including giving advice, issuing verbal and written warnings, issuing improvement notices, taking animals into their possession and prosecution.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.