Animal Welfare

Welfare of Animals

Local Councils in Northern Ireland are responsible for enforcement of the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011, in respect of non-farmed animals’ e.g. domestic pets of any vertebrate species and equines (horses and donkeys).

Councils have adopted a collaborative regional approach to the new legislation and have appointed Animal Welfare Officers to enforce animal welfare in respect of non-farmed animals only across Northern Ireland. The Officers have statutory enforcement powers and can take a range of action to improve the welfare of non-farmed animals including, providing advice, issuing an improvement notice, taking animals into their possession (in extreme cases of suffering), and initiating prosecution action.  It should be emphasised that the responsibility for the welfare of any animal remains at all times with the owner or keeper of an animal.  Animal Welfare Officers will investigate complaints and ensure the owner complies with the legislation.  Rehoming of animals that are unwanted should be dealt with through a sanctuary or relevant charity.

Reporting welfare issues

The Animal Welfare Officers cover the whole of Northern Ireland working on a regional basis.  If you need to report an animal welfare issue during office hours Monday to Friday 9am-5pm you should contact the appropriate telephone number relating to the region you live in.

Between 9am and 5pm at weekends and over holiday periods contact the same number and your call will be diverted to an answering service. Emails will only be responded to during office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Eastern region (Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council)
Tel:      028 9244 7861

Belfast City Council
Tel:      028 9027 0431

Northern region (Mid and East Antrim District Council, Causeway Coast and Glens District Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council)
Tel:      028 2563 3134

Southern region (Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council)
Tel:      028 3751 5800

Western region (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Mid Ulster District Council)
Tel:      028 8225 6226

Farmed animals

Welfare complaints in respect of farmed animals (that is animals bred or kept for the production of food, wool or skin or other farming purposes) should be referred to the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs.  During office hours Monday to Friday 9am-5pm on 0300 200 7840.

Weekends – contact a local Private Veterinary Practice or PSNI who will, as necessary, refer the welfare complaint to the relevant “on call” officer.

Wild Animals and Criminal Activity

Welfare complaints in respect of wild animals, animal fighting, Badger baiting or criminal activity against a person’s property including animals should be referred to the local Police Station.