6. Deprivation of ownership of animal

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 convicted of one of the following offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, is the owner of an animal in relation to which the offence is committed, the court may make an order depriving the offender of ownership of the animal and for its disposal (Animal Welfare Act 2006, s.33).

  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 disqualification order (s.34(9)).

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

As set out in ss.33(1) and 33(2) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, deprivation of ownership may be imposed instead of or in addition to dealing with the offender in any other way. The court should consider whether the purposes of sentencing are met when deciding whether to impose the deprivation order as a standalone sentence.

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