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New guides advise cat, dog and horse owners on creating suitable environments for their pets

Britain Says Take Care of Your Pet, Or Go To Jail

November 06, 2008 06:28 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
New guides advise cat, dog and horse owners on creating suitable environments for their pets, including provisions for “entertainment and mental stimulation.”

Government Releases Guidelines for Pet Owners

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The British government announced on Tuesday the new codes of conduct for pet owners, which address issues such as housing, proper diet, and animal preferences. Among other advice, it says that people must provide their pets with “a suitable place to live” and “somewhere suitable to go to the toilet.”

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn says that the codes, which will be distributed as leaflets after an eight-week consultation period, give practical suggestions on how to follow the 2006 Animal Welfare Act. Although there are no fines for breaking the rules, violations could be used in prosecuting animal cruelty cases. “This means no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating an animal,” Benn said, according to The Guardian.

The 26-page document that makes up the cat code describes normal feline behavior and says that cats should be provided with suitable toys and entertainment. “You should ensure that your cat has enough mental stimulation from you and from its environment to avoid boredom and frustration.”

When it comes to diet, the code says that “an obese cat is an unhealthy cat,” and that “it is a good idea in a ‘greedy’ cat to have the measured food divided up into a number of meals per day.”

Dog owners are advised to provide their pet with adequate companionship, a need that is also relevant to donkeys, who “have particular socialization needs and can … become ill if separated from a companion.” Horse owners are provided with similar guidelines.

The Guardian reports that, in 2006, there was a dramatic increase in complaints and reports of animal cruelty, although convictions fell by one-fifth.

Reactions: New guides are ‘absurd’

The code has already attracted derision from those in government and British citizens. Tories are calling them “absurd” and say that the advice is patronizing. Opposition politicians are also saying that the rules are “over the top” and “take people for fools,” according to the Telegraph.

On the BBC’s Web site, Julie of Dunstable comments: “What will they come up with next? My family has had many animals and we have not felt the need to be told how to ‘entertain’ them! My cat is sleeping right now, so do I leave him to sleep, assuming that is normal, or wake him up and entertain him, in case he is just bored? Better read the guidelines!”

“We’ll be given advice on how to breathe next,” says Alex of Edinburgh.

Related Topics: Pet rentals; emotional connections with dogs

Reference: Guide to pet care

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