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Teachers: PSHE: Confidence Responsibility

Last Updated: Friday April 13 2007 16:15 GMT

The Animal Welfare Act

A guinea pig [RSPCA]

PSHE Responsibility


Pets are to be given more legal rights thanks to new laws to stop them being neglected and mistreated.

Cruelty to animals has been illegal for years but now those who don't care for their pets will get into trouble too.

The laws will mean owners in England must give their animals food and water, somewhere to live, exercise and take them to vets if they need it.

Students in groups draw up their own 'Duty of Care' for animals.

Learning aims
  • Learn the importance of looking after pets.

  • Discuss and write the most important animal rights that should be upheld.

Read the story New laws to protect your pets

Ask the class:

  • The UK often has the reputation of being a nation of animal lovers, do we deserve it?

  • What should the punishments be for breaking the new law?

  • To what extent should animals have the same rights as humans?

Main activity

The five essential requirements that the owner of a pet will need to provide are:
Definition of 'domestic'
A cat [Photo: RSPCA]
Living near or about human habitations

  • A suitable environment (where it lives).

  • A suitable diet (what it eats and drinks).

  • To be able to behave normally.

  • To be housed with or apart from other animals, (whatever is best for that particular animal).

  • To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
In groups, students can use these as inspiration to write their own 'Duty of Care'.

They should make their own individual list from this discussion and illustrate it with drawings or images taken from magazines, websites or newspapers.

Give out copies of the;

Students write their reactions to each opinion expressed before rating their agreement with each.

Extension activity

Students research and devise a 'How to look after a...' information sheet for an animal of their choice that is usually kept in a zoo and not as a pet.

They should include advice presented in a similar way to the welfare laws for domestic animals.


Recap on the main teaching points and students present their ideas for a 'Duty of Care'.

Teachers' Background


  • In 1822, Richard Martin MP piloted the first anti-cruelty bill giving cattle, horses and sheep a degree of protection through parliament.

  • Richard Martin MP was one of the 22 founders of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which was launched in London in 1824. The SPCA became the first national animal protection society in the world.
  • By 1840 the Society's work was held in such high regard that Queen Victoria gave her permission for the SPCA to be called the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Animal Welfare Act
  • The act Imposes on animal owners and those responsible for animals a duty of care ensuring their animals' welfare.
  • Gives extra powers to those involved in animal welfare inspection activities and extends the range of sentences available to the courts.
  • Updates the laws regarding animal sanctuaries, dog & cat kennels, pet shops, performing animals and riding stables.
  • Prohibits the giving of pets as prizes and the selling of pets to children.

  • Offenders can be banned from owning animals; fined up to 20,000; and/or sent to prison for a maximum of 51 weeks. It remains an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal, or to organise an animal fight, but the law relating to these offences has been revised so that it is geared to tackle the types of crimes that occur in the 21st century.
  • The Government intends to make more specific laws, under secondary legislation, for particular kinds of activities relating to animals where it is felt that more detailed regulations are necessary; such as the welfare of racing greyhounds and wild animals in travelling circuses.
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