Animal Welfare Act: No Table Treats
Regulations. Some are good, others are bad.
According to our dog Bo, regulations of the bad variety include: limits on begging, constraints on the size of exercise yards and full bans on sleeping on the bed during hot summer nights.
Bo's list of good regulations include: keeping poison out of dog food, requiring humans to look out for our well being and the rubbing of exposed bellies at least once a day.
So I read with interest about the new Animal Welfare Act from our friends in the UK.
Failing to notice your dog is getting fat, feeding it at the table and chocolate treats are all animal cruelty that could end up putting someone in jail under new government guidelines.
Chocolate, raisins or grapes are "poisonous" for pets, according to the code, while a dog should not be disturbed when eating as this can cause "food-related aggression".
It also recommends that dogs should not be fed at the table as this can lead to begging - and that "curious" animals such as cats should be kept away from windows or tumble dryers.
Once again I turned to Bo for his thoughts, after all, this law does effect canines . "I thought this Act was for animal welfare? I agree about not being disturbed while dining on a nice slab of beef, but explain how keeping treats from me, and making me step on a scale every day, is going to help my self esteem?
And what's the deal about not being fed at a table? What, were these regulations written in the 14th century?"
The new codes of practice for owners of dogs, cats and horses, just released for consultation, are part of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to prevent cruelty. The guidance says that breaching the three codes will not in itself be a crime, but it could prove to be the deciding factor in whether an individual is found guilty in court of a pet welfare offense - which carries a maximum jail sentence of six months or a fine of up to 20,000.
The code of practice for dogs advises against taking a dog for a walk during the hottest part of the day or feeding it less than an hour before vigorous exercise in order to avoid "bloating". Owners should groom dogs with long hair at least once a day and all dogs should have teeth cleaned with dog chews or canine toothpaste as part of routine care.
Training dogs should be done through "positive reinforcement" rather than punishment that can lead to behavioral problems in the future. Owners can spot signs of stress such as barking excessively, urinating indoors or yawning when not tired.
A spokesman said:"A new washing machine or pot plant comes with instructions, currently most pets do not. We think the new codes of practice will improve animal welfare and prevent animal suffering through education."
Being dog lovers we all want the same thing, a well-loved happy dog. While this law was written with good intent, it goes over the line into absurdity.
Oddly, Bo did come with instructions. They read, "Please feed, walk and cuddle often. It is natural for these acts of kindness to be returned in kind."