LONDON, April 30, 2002 ( – The British government is working on legislation to give dogs, cats, and other house pets and circus animals a legal bill of rights which would hold owners liable to prosecution if the rights are violated. The Sunday Times reports that Elliot Morley, an environment minister is drawing up the proposals with the help of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In a speech today Morley will announce the proposals. “We need to modernise the law by setting minimum standards for the animals in our care. We have an obligation to treat animals in the way that a civilised society expects,” he said.

The RSPCA has proposed “five freedoms” to be adopted for all pets and circus animals. They say the animals should be entitled to:  Freedom from hunger and thirst – enough good food and water to keep them healthy.  Freedom from discomfort – comfortable cages or resting areas.  Freedom from pain, injury and disease – and rapid veterinary treatment if they are ill.  Freedom to express normal behaviour – so they have enough space and company.  Freedom from fear and distress – treatment that avoids mental suffering.

Morley commented on the proposals saying: “These criteria have been discussed by government advisers. They are widely accepted and easily understood.”

See the coverage in the Sunday Times (registration required):,,177-281181,00.html


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