The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, which came into effect Friday, strengthens the already existing protections for animals in Irish law.
“The Animal Health and Welfare Act is an important piece of legislation, bringing together and modernising many existing laws in the area of animal health and welfare and I am delighted to bring it into effect,” said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
He said the act brings the areas of both animal health and welfare together under one legislative framework for the first time.
“While in the past animal welfare and animal health may have been seen as separate issues, the act recognises that they are closely related and in many cases inter-dependent and that synergy can be gained by bringing them together under one legislative roof. Where either health or welfare breaks down, it often has consequences for the other,” he added.
The Irish minister said the act, by placing the concepts of prevention, risk assessment and biosecurity at the heart of Irish legislation relating to animal health and welfare, puts the country to the fore of best international practice.
Under the act, judges for the first time will be granted specific powers to prevent people from cruelty to, or failing to protect the welfare of animals. In the case of dog fights, the range of evidence which courts can consider has been expanded to include attendance at a dog fight, which should make conviction easier.