The Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew brought the second stage of the Welfare of Animals Bill to the assembly on 29 June 2010.
The bill supersedes the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, making it an offence to fail to take reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of animals for which a person is responsible.
The docking of dogs' tails is also prohibited, along with selling animals to persons under 16, and abandonment of animals.
The minister said the bill would help prevent animal cruelty and enhance protection of all animals.
She said animals would benefit immediately from the bill as it did not need to wait on subordinate legislation.
However, Agriculture Committee deputy chair Tom Elliot labelled it as "an empty bill" because it was devoid of any detail, despite having around 60 clauses.
The UUP MLA said the committee did not share the department's view on the bill and that the department had not learned any lessons from previous committee sessions dealing with the legislation.
In closing, the minister said the legislative process undertaken by her department was the correct one, as it gave greater flexibility to change provisions in the future.
The bill passed its second stage.