Animal welfare

Page updated on: 12/02/2024

There is a wide range of legislation in the UK designed to protect the health and welfare of both domesticated and wild animals. 

We enforce animal health and welfare legislation alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Sometimes, we will involve other government bodies and independent organisations like the RSPCA.

We are responsible for and respond to public referrals in all of the following areas:

  • Inspecting animals on farms
  • Inspecting animals at livestock markets, slaughterhouses, knacker yards, hunt kennels and licensed animal gatherings
  • Inspecting vehicles transporting animals
  • Enforcing a range of legislation whilst carrying out such visits including legislation relating to disease control, animal identification, animal movements, bio-security, animal welfare and animal by-products
  • Registering performing animals
  • Monitoring and enforcement of illegally imported animals
  • Licensing of horse riding, dog breeding and animal boarding establishments
  • Dangerous wild animals
  • The control of stray dogs
  • Noise control (barking dogs and other animal noise)
  • Dangerous dogs
  • The Pet Animals Act 1951


DEFRA are responsible for:

  • National animal health and welfare strategy
  • International trade in animals
  • Wildlife conservation and biodiversity
  • Wildlife crime


Defra website