10. Disqualification from ownership of animals

Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.

Where an offender is convicted of one of the following offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the court may disqualify him or her from owning or keeping animals, dealing in animals, and/or transporting animals (Animal Welfare Act 2006, s.34):

  1. causing unnecessary suffering (s.4);
  2. mutilation (s.5);
  3. docking of dogs’ tails (ss.6(1) and 6(2));
  4. administration of poisons etc. (s.7);
  5. fighting etc. (s.8);
  6. breach of duty to ensure welfare (s.9);
  7. breach of licensing or registration requirements (s.13(6));
  8. breach of disqualification order (s.36(9)).

The court is required to give reasons if it decides not to make such an order.

The court may specify the minimum period before an offender may apply for termination of the order under section 43 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006; if no period is specified, an offender may not apply for termination of the order until one year after the order was made.

Disqualification may be imposed instead of or in addition to dealing with the offender in any other way.