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Last Updated: Wednesday April 04 2007 04:50 GMT

New laws to protect your pets

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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.

And in future you'll have to be 16 to buy a pet, although you'll still be allowed to help take care of one.

It's hoped the new laws, which are already in force in Wales, will help stop unwanted pets being dumped or abandoned.

Warning

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A gerbil [Photo: RSPCA]

Animal charity the RSPCA used to have to wait until an animal was suffering before they could step in and rescue it.

But the change in rules means it will be able to save abused animals if owners ignore warnings to take better care of their pets.

This means it will be easier to punish people for treating their animals badly. And they'll now face fines of up to 20,000 and could be jailed for a year.

It's the first big change to animal and pet laws for nearly 100 years.



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