The RSPCA on suspicion of any animal cruelty or similar offences will interview under caution, sometimes at your home address and sometimes at a local police station.
It is important to note that you are entitled to free and independent legal advice for any such interviews as these are conducted under caution and will be used as evidence during any further prosecution. It is crucial that you obtain advice swiftly should the RSPCA wish to interview you concerning any offences of animal cruelty or similar matters.
Prosecutions are brought under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and / or the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
Animal Welfare Act
Causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal
Section 4 Animal Welfare Act 2006 allows prosecutions to be brought against the owner of an animal or somebody who has control / care of the said animal for causing unnecessary suffering. This can include both the deliberate causing of injury to the animal but also the failure to ensure that appropriate veterinary care is sought that results in the unnecessary suffering to the animal.
Examples of that include failing to secure veterinary treatment for conditions such as conjunctivitis, ear infections or worm / flea infestations.
Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare
Section 9 Animal Welfare Act - A person commits an offence if he / she does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he / she is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.
Examples of this include the failure to provide a suitable environment, failure to provide a suitable diet and failure to ensure the animal is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. There are guidelines for good practice in relation to most protected animals.
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
Certain breeds and dogs that have the characteristics of those breeds are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
It is also a criminal offence to have a dog dangerously out of control in a public place. Examples of this behaviour can include when a dog has bitten another person or another dog causing injury. Or examples where they are not on a lead and out of control.
Deprivation and Disqualification Order
Under both the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 the prosecution can apply for an order to deprivation order. That means that the protected animal can be taken from your care and disposed of so can be re-homed or sadly put down.
In addition the prosecution can apply for a disqualification order meaning that they can ban you from owning and keeping all protected animals or certain types of animals such as dogs etc for a specified period of time. Any animal lover can appreciate that this could have a devastating effect on a person subjected to such an application.
What to do if you are contacted by the RSPCA
It is vitally important that you contact us here at Waldrons if you are contacted by the RSPCA for the purposes of any investigation into animal cruelty. You need the assistance of a solicitor in these circumstances.
Having been interviewed the RSPCA may summons you to appear before a local Magistrates’ Court charged with offences such as animal welfare, animal cruelty. These offences can carry imprisonment and are known to be robustly prosecuted and tend to pull on the heart strings of Magistrates hearing such cases.
It is therefore important that your case is professionally defended before the Court to ensure the best possible outcome.
Advice For RSPCA Prosecutions From Waldrons
At Waldrons we can assist you challenge any of these applications before the Court.
You may have been prosecuted already by the RSPCA and not sought the advice of a solicitor and have now had animals removed by the imposition of a Disqualification Order. These Orders can be appealed and this is something we will be able to advise you on, so please contact us to speak to one of the team.