Full Statute Name:  Model National Animal Welfare Act

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Primary Citation:  model law Date Adopted:  2004

This model law was drafted to provide a starting point for the drafting of national animal welfare law.  It includes sections related to companion animals, animal cruelty, owner responsibilities, animal experimentation, and food animal provisions, among others.

Model National Animal Welfare Legislation

Drafted by Professor David Favre & Jaime Olin

Animal and Legal Historical Web Center

Michigan State University College of Law


Summary:  This model statute represents general animal welfare legislation that can be easily adopted by developing countries.  (A full translation into Spanish is available.)  It sets out specific criminal actions, and a process for future regulatory acts by national and local governments. A full explanation of the draft law can be found in the accompanying paper.


There is also an article that compares existing national statutes which might be helpful in understanding the issues that need to be addressed. ( comparative paper )


Statute in Full:


This law shall be know as the Animal Welfare Act of [2004] .


Sec. 1.   Introduction


(a)     Animals, having both intrinsic and extrinsic value to human societies, deserve special protection of their individual interests under the law.   This statute acknowledges the obligations that humans have toward animals.


(b)    All branches of the government shall endeavor to implement the spirit of this law in assuring the best possible life for animals within our community.


(c)     This law acknowledges the rights of humans to keep and use animals, but only where the interests of the animals are recognized and protected.


Sec. 2.   Definitions


(a)     “Abandon” means the intentional relinquishment of dominion and control of domesticated animals without appropriate safeguards for the animal’s well-being.


(b)    “Abuse” means the intentional mistreatment of an animal, by example, but not limited to, the use of poison, torture, torment, electrical shock, wounding, unjustified killing, excessive beating, or removal of food or water.


(c)       “Animal” means any living vertebrate other than human beings.


(d)    “Animal sanctuary” means permanent housing for animals developed by a for-profit or non-profit organization.


(e)     “Animal shelter” means physical facilities created by for-profit or non-profit organization to provide housing for unwanted or stray animals.   These may be authorized by the National Agency to provide veterinary care, to investigate violations of this statute, to adopt out animals, and to administer euthanasia.


(f)      “Companion animal” means animals kept in or near the household for the primary purpose of companionship for the member(s) of the household. This includes, but is not limited to, dogs, cats, and parrots. Dangerous wild animals, including all large cats, bears, and other species designated by the National Agency, shall not be allowed as companion animals.


(g)     “Cruelty” means the intentional, unjustified killing, poisoning, physically injuring, causing physical pain, or causing psychological distress to any animal.


(h)     “Dangerous dog” means any dog which, when unprovoked and in an aggressive manner, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being, or twice within a 12 month period has killed a domestic animal.  


(i)       “Euthanasia” means the humane killing of animals. The National Agency shall establish the acceptable methods of euthanasia, but in the absence of such provisions, only methods which bring quick unconsciousness or death shall be used.    


(j)      “Experimental animals” means animals used for scientific or educational purposes in the public or private sphere, including universities and other schools.   This includes, but is not limited to, mice, rats, primates, other mammals and birds.


(k)    “Experimenter” means a scientist involved with the development of protocols using animals and/or the person performing such experiments employed at a university or corporation engaged in scientific research..


(l)       “Farm animals” means animals kept for the purposes of production of goods, including milk, meat, and clothing.   Animals covered include, but may not be limited to, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and goats. [Based on local custom it is expected this list will be expanded by the adopting legislature.]


(m)   “’Feral’ wildlife” means animals once privately owned, or their progeny.   These animals are no longer under the control of humans.   This includes, but is not limited to, dogs and cats.


(n)     “Inhumane” means the mistreatment of animals that goes against cultural norms for acceptable.


(o)    “Keeper” means a person with primary caregiving responsibilities for the animal.


(p)    “National Agency” means the _________ Department [or Ministry] which will have responsibility for the adoption and implementation of regulations required under this statute.


(q)    “Owner” means a person at least 16 years of age who holds title to the animal.


(r)      “Pain” means both the adverse physiological and psychological processes experienced by animals when injured or harmed.   This may or may not be manifested by the animals’ behavior.


(s)     “Person” means any human, business partnership or corporation.


(t)      “Unjustified” means actions for which a suitable reason other than cruelty cannot be found. [The breadth of this definition should be determined in accordance with the norms of the culture.]


(u)     “Veterinarian” means a person with ample experience in performing medical procedures on animals.   This can be ascertained by the existence of a state license or through compliance with standards adopted by the National Agency.


(v)     “Working animals” means animals kept for the purpose of performing tasks.   This includes, but is not limited to, carrying loads, performing in human entertainment, and assisting humans in other ways.


Sec. 3.   General provisions.


(a)     An owner or keeper of an animal shall not do any of the following:


(1)    Fail to provide proper food, water, shelter, and ample space for bodily movement and reasonable exercise,


(2)    Force an animal to do anything beyond its species-specific capabilities,


(3)    Abandon an animal,


(4)    Abuse or cruelly treat an animal,


(5)    Refuse to supply veterinary care to an animal in debilitating pain.


(b)    A person shall not do any of the following:


(1)    Cruelly treat or abuse an animal,


(2)    Fail to provide veterinary care to an animal in pain that they have caused,


(3)    Neglect to report animal abuse or inhumane treatment, within their personal knowledge, to local officials. When such information is provided, no civil liability shall attach to the reporting of the information.


Sec. 4.   Companion animals.


(a)     Because of the importance of companion animals in human lives, and because of the known connection between animal abuse and child/spousal/elder abuse, this statute mandates compliance with the following provisions.


(b)    The owner or keeper shall:


(1)    Provide the animal with access to daylight and sufficient space for ease of movement,


(2)    Provide the animal with sufficient shelter to protect against heat, rain, and cold,


(3)    Ensure the animal has necessary freedom of movement and access to food and water,


(4)    Vaccinate their animals against any diseases the National Agency deems necessary,


(5)    Provide veterinary care when the animal is ill or injured.   Home treatment may be provided where reasonable under the circumstances.


(6)    Use live animals as prizes in contest and games, or as targets in shooting matches.


(c)     The owner or keeper shall not:


(1)    Tether the animal if doing so may lead to injuries or suffering, or if the tether is less than five feet or three times the length of the animal,


(2)    Permanently chain an animal, indoors or outdoors,


(3)    Allow a dog deemed to be dangerous to run at large.


(d)    The local administrative body may [shall]:


(1)    Require licensing of dogs,


(2)    Implement a sliding scale for licensing fees, depending on the type and breeding status of the animals,


(3)    Require easy identification of dogs, including tattooing, microchipping, and collar tags,


(4)    Establish low- or no-cost vaccination and spay/neuter clinics [where possible].   Fees from dog licenses may be utilized to help pay for this program,


(5)    Establish a maximum number of animals that may be kept per owner,


(6)    Implement humane regulations concerning overpopulation, which may include mandatory spay/neuter programs, mandatory permits for owners intending to breed their animals, authorizing higher licensing fees for intact animals, and national education programs addressing overpopulation,


(7)    Prohibit businesses from keeping more than six breeding females for the sole purpose of providing young to the market,


(8)    Establish proper means for disposal of unwanted animals, including the creation of animal shelters, creation of sanctuaries, or where no alternative exists, humane euthanasia,


(9)    Establish and fund animal control agencies and animal cruelty investigators,


(10)      Establish ordinances to deal with dangerous dogs, although breed-specific bans are not allowed. Any such ordinance shall not provide for the killing of a dog without notice to the owner or keeper, nor without an administrative hearing for the owner of the dog. Restrictions on the dog and owner shall be utilized when it is possible to do so while protecting public safety.


Sec. 4.   Experimental animals.


(a)     Experiments and tests on animals are permissible only if they are necessary for scientific progress or protection of health for humans or animals, and if these objectives cannot be reached in another way because of the lack of appropriate alternative methods.   A researcher is obligated to use international information in a given field of science in order to eliminate the risks of the unnecessary repetition of experiments.   The three Rs (reduction, refinement, and replacement) should be utilized in the development of experimental protocols.


(b)    The testing of consumer products on animals is prohibited.


(c)     A national review board shall be established, within the National Agency, to set regulations for experimentation on animals.   This board shall be comprised of five members, including a veterinarian, a researcher, and an animal welfare advocate.   Individual institutional review boards must be established at all institutions licensed for animal research in order to do the initial review of individual protocols, to investigate laboratory conditions, and to provide general research support for the institution.


(d)    The national review board shall:


(1)    Set minimum and optimal requirements for the care and keeping of laboratory animals, addressing issues of physical space, provision of food and water, social requirements, and psychological requirements. Until such regulations are adopted, animal research institutions shall be guided by the   “Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” as published by the United States National Research Council,


(2)    Reevaluate and update these standards at least every five years to comply with newly discovered information about each particular species used,


(3)    Grant, suspend and revoke scientific investigation permits to institutions carrying out animal experiments. And shall conduct annual investigations of all laboratories to ensure compliance with the regulations.


(e)     An experimenter shall:


(1)    Submit all experimental protocols involving animals to the institutional review board initially, and with their approval to the national review board before proceeding with the experiment,


(2)    Follow the protocol approved by the review board.   If he/she wishes to deviate from the approved procedure, he/she must receive prior approval in writing from the board,


(3)    Obtain animals for experimentation only from approved sources.   This excludes animal shelters, private owners, and wild-caught animals,


(4)    Treat laboratory animals humanely, taking care to minimize pain and discomfort,


(5)    Provide appropriate housing for laboratory animals, acknowledging physical, psychological, and social well-being of the species and individual animal,


(6)    Administer anesthesia or painkillers to animals involved in painful experiments,


(7)    Administer euthanasia to an animal that will suffer ongoing extreme pain after an experiment,


(8)    Research and use alternatives to animal experimentation wherever possible.


(f)      An experimenter shall not:


(1)    Use an animal in more than one invasive and/or painful experiment,


(2)    Euthanize any healthy animal,


(3)    Use great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos) for any scientific experimentation.


(g)     Scientific education.


(1)    Dissection shall not be permitted in grade schools [through age 18],


(2)    Where dissection is permitted at the university level, students must be allowed to opt out of the procedures without suffering any detriment to their grades,


(3)    Dissection alternatives should be researched by universities and implemented where possible.   Where a university finds dissection necessary to its educational goals, care should be taken to provide for the humane treatment and euthanasia of the animals.


Sec. 5.   Farm animals.


(a)     Animals that are raised and bred for the purposes of providing food and clothing for humans should be accorded humane treatment.   Respect for each individual animal should be encouraged, and methods of husbandry, transport, and slaughter should be altered as new, more humane methods are developed.


(b)    The owner or keeper shall:


(1)    Only keep animals in enclosures where the animal has ample room to rise to its full height, turn around, lie down, and will not incur any danger from the enclosure itself,


(2)    Acknowledge social behavior of the species when determining the number of animals to keep per enclosure,


(3)    Provide regular food, water, space, fresh air, society, access to exercise, and appropriate social grouping,


(4)    Provide veterinary care for diseased or injured animals,


(5)    Slaughter farm animals using the most humane methods possible.   The animal must either be unconscious before death or death must be instantaneous.


(c)     The owner or keeper shall not:


(1)    Keep animals in cages,


(2)    Keep too many animals in each enclosure where this will lead to crowding, injury, or stress to the animals,


(3)    Cut off beaks or tails,


(4)    Give animals growth hormones,


(5)    Fatten geese and ducks for the purpose of foie gras production,


(6)    Keep calves in small single animal enclosures and withhold proper nutrition for the production of veal,


(7)    Keep any animal permanently chained or caged for ongoing, physically invasive procedures.


(d)    Persons who transport farm animals shall:


(1)    Use the fastest and/or most comfortable route to maintain the well-being of the animals,


(2)    Correctly position animals in the vehicle so that animals have the ability to lie down and get up during transport without discomfort,


(3)    Keep the floors and walls of the vehicle clean and sanitary,


(4)    Maintain appropriate temperature, ventilation, and space in the vehicle,


(5)    During a transport of longer than eight consecutive hours, provide the animals with food and water at regular intervals, and give the animals an opportunity to rest,


(6)    Provide sick or injured animals with veterinary care,


(7)    Immediately remove animals that die during transport.


Sec. 6.   Working animals.


(a)     Animals that perform tasks for humans, whether seeing-eye dogs, load-pulling oxen, racehorses, or circus ponies, shall be accorded humane treatment.   Because of this, the use of animals in shows and sports characterized by cruelty and/or pain, including but not limited to fights between or among bulls, dogs, and cocks, is strictly forbidden.


(b)    Persons using animals for work shall:


(1)    Provide a rest period both during the work and after the work for animals appropriate to their species to enable them to recuperate their strength,


(2)    Appoint a duly qualified person to carry out animal training for the purposes of shows and entertainment. Pain shall never be used as a method of training an animal,


(3)    Submit to inspections by national or international animal welfare organizations to ensure compliance with performing animal regulations.


(c)     Persons using animals for work shall not:


(1)    Overburden or force animals to perform behaviors beyond their species-specific capabilities,


(2)    Use animals that are sick, too young, too old, or undernourished for work,


(3)    Use objects or tools for driving or training animals that could cause bodily injuries or unnecessary pain,


(4)    Use excessive force while the animal is performing its task,


(5)    Give any substance to an animal for the sole reason of enhancing performance.


(6)    Engage in the breeding or training of animals to be used in criminal fighting activity, or to organize or promote an animal fighting event.


(d)    Circuses.


(1)    The creation of new circuses or traveling menageries containing wild-caught animals is forbidden,


(2)    Circuses and traveling menageries may not include elephants, lions, tigers, or bears.   Those businesses that already contain these animals must retire the animals to sanctuaries.   [Businesses complying with this regulation may be compensated by the non-profit organization running the sanctuary],


(3)    Persons engaged in the training of animals for circus performances must comply with Sec. 6 (b) and (c).


(e)     Zoos.


(1)    Zoos must comply with the regulations set out by the [American Zoological Association].   They will have [two years] to come into compliance.   [This may include the creation of a review board to investigate living conditions at the facilities],


(2)    Zoos may implement breeding programs for animals only when there is space available for the offspring in the zoo or when the breeding is part of a program approved by the National Agency.   [These programs must be approved by the review board before begun.],


(3)    Zoos with excess or unhealthy animals must establish or utilize existing sanctuaries at which to retire these animals.   Humane euthanasia should only be used as a last resort.


Sec. 7.   ‘Feral’ wildlife.


(a)     It is acknowledged that previously-domesticated animals running at large are a substantial problem in urban and other areas. These animals should be treated humanely and carefully while taking into account the public health and safety concerns they present.


(b)    The local governing body shall:


(1)    Implement a program for spay/neuter clinics to prevent population growth of these animals. [These clinics should be staffed by a veterinarian or veterinary technician],


(2)    Encourage volunteers from the community to staff these clinics,


(3)    Discourage citizens from feeding these wild populations,


(4)    Establish easy contact information for citizens to report to the clinics as to the whereabouts and living conditions of these populations,


(5)    Either release altered animals back to the place where they were found, or relocate them elsewhere,


(6)    Provide funding for these clinics to administer vaccinations and veterinary care for the animals,


(7)    Use humane euthanasia of these populations only as a last resort,


(8)    Educate the community as to the proper ways to approach, trap, and transport these animals to the clinics,


(9)    Educate the community as to the public health and safety concerns surrounding these animals.


Sec. 8   Enforcement.


(a)     Both national and local police officials shall enforce the provisions of this law. Local government may appoint animal control officers to specifically deal with the requirements of this law,


(b)    Private non-profit animal shelters may have employees authorized by local police as capable of engaging in criminal investigations and arrest under this law. Such a candidate must show a full understanding of law enforcement generally and the provisions of this law specifically,


(c)     The National Agency may seek an injunction to stop an ongoing violation of this law. It may initiate a civil proceeding against any party who violates any regulation or procedure adopted by the National Agency. The outcome of such civil proceeding shall include to revoke or modify any permits granted, and/or to impose fines up to $1,000 per violation,


(d) Private non-profit animal shelters, designated by the National Agency for this purpose, are authorized to bring lawsuits to stop by injunction ongoing violations of this law. While such organizations may not seek money damages, the court may award cost of attorney fees.


Sec. 9.   Penalties


(a)     If a court finds that a defendant has violated Section 3 (b) or 6 (a), then the penalty shall be up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for the first such offence. For second and subsequent convictions, the penalty shall be up to three years in jail and $10,000 fine for each conviction, and a minimum of two months in jail shall be required. Each animal impacted by defendant’s actions shall constitute a separate count under the law,


(b)    For all other violations of the provisions of this law, the court shall impose a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a $100 fine for a first offence and six month and $1,000 fine for subsequent convictions. Each animal impacted by defendant’s actions shall constitute a separate count under the law,


(c)     A person or organization that is caring for an animal pending the resolution of criminal proceeding concerning the animal may make a motion to the court for the cost of caring for the animal and the court may require the owner to either pay the cost of care or relinquish title of the animal to the party holding the animal,


(d)    A court may require a convicted defendant to give up the animal in question and may limit future ownership and possession of animals by the defendant.   

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