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Code of welfare for temporary housing of companion animals

Code of welfare for the temporary housing of companion animals out for consultation


Wednesday 25 June

Media Release from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC)


New Zealanders are being invited to have their say on the newly drafted animal welfare standards for the temporary housing of companion animals.

The proposed Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals describes the minimum standards and best practice guidelines that owners and people in charge of animals must achieve to meet their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

“It is essential that owners and people in charge of companion animals in temporary housing facilities are aware of their welfare needs,” says Chair of NAWAC Dr John Hellström.

The draft code of welfare applies to all companion animals being held in temporary housing facilities in New Zealand, including animals in boarding establishments, animal welfare centres and pounds, training establishments, quarantine or isolation facilities and pet shops.

The minimum standards and recommendations for best practice in the code relate to competency and stockmanship; the provision of food and water; housing; temperature and lighting; air and water quality; behaviour; health and disease; sale or rehoming; and euthanasia.

“The aim of the draft code is to encourage all those responsible for the welfare of these animals to adopt the highest standards of husbandry, care and handling. It is expected that the code will be used as a guide for best practice,” says Dr Hellström.

“Owners and people in charge of animals have a duty of care to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of animals are met and that pain and distress are alleviated.

“Input from the general public is also an important part of the development of this code of welfare. NAWAC welcomes submissions from anyone interested in the welfare of companion animals in temporary housing.

Public consultation begins today and will run until 5pm, Thursday 7 August.
You can read the proposed code on the web, here : http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/biosec/consult
Anyone wanting to make a submission on the draft code should do so in writing to awsubmission@mpi.govt.nz


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What is a code of welfare?

Codes of welfare play an important role in improving animal welfare standards in New Zealand. They outline minimum standards of animal care and establish best practices to provide guidance for those who own or look after animals.

What is the process for developing codes of welfare?

The Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals was drafted by a group convened by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council. NAWAC has determined that the draft code meets the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 for release for public consultation.

All codes of welfare are developed by an independent committee which provides advice to the Minister for Primary Industries about animal welfare. NAWAC has a wide range of expertise across animal welfare, science and ethics.

When developing codes of welfare NAWAC takes into account public submissions, and comments from those affected by the code, as well as the latest scientific knowledge, available technology and good practice.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, NAWAC has to be satisfied that the proposed minimum standards are the minimum necessary to ensure that the purposes of the Act will be met and that the recommendations for best practice are appropriate.

Once NAWAC is satisfied with the code it recommends it to the Minister. The Minister then holds the responsibility to decide if it will come into force.


What is currently in place to ensure the needs of animals are met?

People in charge of animals must meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. They must also meet the requirements in relevant codes of welfare and any additional rules that are set by their local councils.


Does the code have a legal standing?

The minimum standards in codes have legal effect in two possible ways:
• Evidence of a failure to meet a relevant minimum standard may be used to support a prosecution for an offence under the Animal Welfare Act
• A person who is charged with an offence against the Act can defend him/herself by showing that he/she has equalled or exceeded minimum standards.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill that is currently before the House will allow for the creation of enforceable regulations to sit alongside codes of welfare where appropriate. You can find out more on the web, here: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/biosec/consult/proposals-for-aw-strategy-and-aw-act

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