RSPCA Prosecutions and Offences Under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

RSPCA Prosecutions and Offences

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 places a duty of care upon people in charge of animals. This duty of care extends to the provision of food, water and appropriate living conditions. Animals must also be allowed to display normal patterns of behaviour, be provided treatment for illness and injury and be handled appropriately. A person in charge of an animal must take reasonable steps to address these matters.

While there may be a broad consensus as to what amounts to cruel treatment of an animal, whether a person has complied with their duty of care can be a more contentious issue. In determining whether a person has acted appropriately in the care of their animals, the legislation provides that regard must be had to the steps a reasonable person would reasonably be expected to have taken in the circumstances.

Prohibition Orders

A person who is sentenced for offences under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 may be ordered to comply with a prohibition order. Prohibition orders can be for a certain, limited period of time or continue indefinitely. They can also apply to all animals or a particular type of animal. Any animal lover would appreciate the anguish associated with such a prospect.

The court is empowered to make a prohibition order where, on the balance of probabilities, it is “just” to make the order in the circumstances. In considering whether it is just, the court must consider various matters including: the nature of the offence the person is charged with, the effect of the offence on the animal, the welfare of the animal and the likelihood the person will commit another animal welfare offence.


If a person’s animals are seized under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, including by the RSPCA, they may be ordered to pay compensation for the costs associated with taking possession of the animals, providing them with accommodation, food, rest or water or arranging for it to receive veterinary or other treatment. For large animals, such as horses, or animals requiring significant medical care, these fees can become exorbitant.

If you or someone you know requires legal advice in relation to animal care and protection or RSPCA matters, contact Grace Townsend at Bosscher Lawyers today.