Animals – Disqualification from Keeping
For many people, keeping animals as pets is hugely enjoyable. Many people go to great lengths to look after their pets. However, not everybody does, and there are occasions when the courts have to intervene.
Section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states that a court may make an order disqualifying a defendant from keeping animals.
When can the order be made?
The defendant must have been convicted of a specified offence under the Act (section 4, 5, 6(1), 6(2), 7, 8 or 9).
The purpose of the order is not to punish the offender; The sole purpose is to protect the future welfare of other animals (Barker v RSPCA  EWHC 880 (Admin)).
When considering the making of a disqualification order regard can properly be had to previous convictions (Ward v RSPCA  EWHC 347 (Admin)).
What is the scope of the order?
Disqualification can include one or more of the following parts:
(a) from owning animals,
(b) from keeping animals,
(c) from participating in the keeping of animals, and
(d) from being party to an arrangement under which he is entitled to control or influence the way in which animals are kept.
(a) disqualifies a person from dealing in animals.
Disqualifies a person –
(a) from transporting animals, and
(b) from arranging for the transport of animals.
Disqualification may be imposed in relation to animals generally, or in relation to animals of one or more kinds.
In R (RSPCA) v Guildford Crown Court (2012) the court held that whilst ordinarily the exclusions contained in [Part 1] must be included as part of a disqualification order, it may be appropriate not to do so if the defendant’s human rights would be infringed.
It is not permissible when making a disqualification order to allow for the keeping of a maximum number of animals (R (RSPCA) v Chester Crown Court  EWHC 1273 (Admin), a case based on section 1(1) Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954, which was couched in the same terms as section 34 of the 2006 Act).
This case also emphasises an important point in relation to the making of a discharge as a way of avoiding disqualification in an appropriate case.
Can an order be avoided?
We realise that orders of this type can cause significant distress and upset; it is vital that all the safeguards in case law and legislation are followed before such orders are made.
If you face proceedings for an offence under the 2006 Act or have been made subject to an order of this type and wish to discuss whether it can be challenged, get in touch with one of our specialist team.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us help.