Power to force entry to prevent an animal suffering

18 September 2019

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

In relation to section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, can officers use reasonable force to enter premises, for example, if a dog is in distress due to the heat?

Answer:

Yes, if the officer can satisfy the requirements of the legislation below, and entry is required before a warrant under section 19(4) can be obtained and executed, reasonable force can be used to enter premises, but not to any part of premises which is used as a private dwelling.

Section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 provides:

‘18(1) If an inspector or a constable reasonably believes that a protected animal is suffering, he may take, or arrange for the taking of, such steps as appear to him to be immediately necessary to alleviate the animal's suffering.’

Section 19 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 sets out the power of entry to premises in order to prevent/stop animal suffering, and provides:

‘19(1) An inspector or a constable may enter premises for the purpose of searching for a protected animal and of exercising any power under section 18 in relation to it if he reasonably believes -

(a) that there is a protected animal on the premises, and

(b) that the animal is suffering or, if the circumstances of the animal do not change, it is likely to suffer.

19(2) Subsection (1) does not authorise entry to any part of premises which is used as a private dwelling.

19(3) An inspector or a constable may (if necessary) use reasonable force in exercising the power conferred by subsection (1), but only if it appears to him that entry is required before a warrant under subsection (4) can be obtained and executed.’

Please see Schedule 2 to this Act for specific conditions, safeguards and additional guidelines in connection with powers of entry, inspection and search, and warrants.

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