Protection of Animals Act 1911

Protection of Animals Act 1911

Whilst there are many Acts of Parliament which are concerned with the welfare of animals, this can be seen as the main and most important Law - the one which underpins, and forms the basis of, most other animal welfare legislation. It can be seen as the "grandfather of animal welfare legislation".

The main reason for the existence of other legislation (including the Veterinary Surgeons Act and its amendments) is to ensure the welfare, and make illegal the ill-treatment, of animals.

In essence, this Law states that it is an offence to subject an animal to unnecessary suffering - through an act of:

Clearly, this Law makes it illegal to deliberately mistreat or injure an animal but it is actually more far reaching than that...

Let's see how all this relates to complementary therapies...


If your animal was sick or injured and you did not seek veterinary advice - you could (should) be prosecuted if the animal suffers unnecessarily as a result of this neglect - you did not do what you should have done. Your animal needed help, you are the owner, and you did nothing. Forgive the bluntness, we are just telling it as it is.


If you were to attempt to treat an injured or sick animal yourself (in whatever way) and as a result the animal suffered more, where this could have been avoided through proper veterinary care - Guilty! - you have just broken the Law and could (should) be prosecuted... Actually you are more likely to be prosecuted under "Omission" since few people would actually do something deliberately to cause their animal to suffer unnecessarily. In giving their own "alternative" treatment to their animal they would, I'm sure, do this with the best intentions but, whether through ignorance or innocence, if the animal suffered unnecessarily they could (should) be prosecuted for failing to do the right thing - seek veterinary advice - they have committed an act of omission, perhaps, more than commission.

It goes without saying, but we are going to say it anyway, that the above two circumstances do not necessarily apply in emergency situations. Any normal person would do whatever they could to help, for example, a critically injured animal. In the essence of time and with the absence of immediate access to a vet you would do whatever you thought would help. Let's not get like some countries which will remain nameless (apologies to all Americans) and sue each other at any given opportunity up to the point where a passing doctor would not try to help a road accident victim for fear of later being sued.

However, since using a complementary therapist would hardly be considered in an emergency ("my dog has been run over, let's ring an aromatherapist!") that is not especially relevant to this situation

Being the owner, permitting an act of commission or omission

...this is where it gets interesting...
If you had an injured or sick animal and you didn't seek veterinary advice but, instead, called in someone else who treated your animal - you could (should) both be prosecuted if the animal suffers unnecessarily.

Bearing in mind that only a vet can legally diagnose an animal's condition and determine the most appropriate treatment, there is a good chance that the "someone else" will not be able to correctly diagnose the condition and begin treating, or "mis"-treating the animal. If this led to the animal's condition deteriorating or even lasting longer than it would under veterinary care ie. suffering unnecessarily, the person giving the treatment could be prosecuted for commission and you could be prosecuted being the owner permitting such treatment.

Again, this could all be done with the best intentions, but the Law is there to protect animals, even our animals, even from ourselves!

It's simple - if you have an injured or sick animal - seek veterinary advice!

You are responsible!

In Law, an animal is classed as "property".

If you have a dog, horse or other domestic or farm animal or one which is legitimately "held captive" by you - you are the owner of that animal.

Whilst our animals give us a great deal of pleasure, it is our responsibility to ensure the welfare of those animals.

In Law - YOU are the owner of your animal and YOU are responsible for it's wellbeing!

Relevant Laws

Protection of Animals Act

Veterinary Surgeons' Act

Veterinary Exemptions

Animal Treatment Laws