About ALF > History

The Protection of Animals Act 1911
By Maria Timmins
Aug 26 2005

The first Protection of Animals Act was passed in 1911 and covers domestic or captive animals including farm animals. Since 1911, there have been nine amendments to the Act.

The Act makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal. It is an offence to:

cruelly beat, kick, ill-treat, over-drive, over-load, torture, infuriate, or terrify any animal;

--cause unnecessary suffering through transportation;

--take part in the fighting or baiting of an animal;

--administer poisonous or injurious substances without good reason;

--permit operations to be carried out without due care and humanity;

--cause unnecessary suffering to an animal that is being destroyed to provide food for mankind;

--and the coursing and hunting of a captive animal that is liberated in an injured, mutilated or exhausted condition, or the coursing and hunting of a captive animal in an enclosed space from which it has no reasonable chance of escape.

Unnecessary suffering can be caused by acts of commission and acts of omission.

Farm pigs

Nothing in the 1911 Act renders illegal any act carried out lawfully under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

If the owner of the animals is convicted, the court may, should it think fit, deprive the owner of the ownership of the animal. Where the court is satisfied that it would be cruel to keep the animal alive, it may direct that the animal be destroyed.

If a Police Officer finds any animal so diseased or so severely injured or in such a physical condition that, in their opinion, having regard to the means available for removing the animal, there is no possibility of removing it without cruelty, they shall, if the owner is absent or refuses to consent to the destruction of the animal, at once summon a duly registered veterinary surgeon.

If you witness an act of unlawful cruelty against a domestic, captive or farm animal, please call 999 immediately.

Those convicted of the most serious offences under the 1911 Act can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or a fine of 5,000, or both.