Equestrian Needs Ltd


From the 2nd of April 2012, District Councils have responsibility for enforcement of the powers in the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011, in respect of domestic pets, horses and donkeys.

Councils have adopted a regional approach to the new legislation and have appointed five Animal Welfare Officers to enforce animal welfare across Northern Ireland. Animal welfare officers have statutory enforcement powers and can take actions to improve the welfare of non-farmed animals including:

  • Providing advice
  • Issuing improvement notices
  • Taking animals into their possession
  • Initiating prosecution action.

Codes of Practice

The Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (“the Act”) requires you to ensure that the needs any horse, pony, donkey or mule for which you are responsible, whether on a permanent or a temporary basis are met to the extent required by good practice. For the purpose of the Act an animal’s needs include:-

  • has a suitable environment to live in;
  • has a healthy diet;
  • is able to behave normally;
  • has appropriate company, and
  • is protected from pain, suffering, injury or disease.

A breach of a provision of the Code is not an offence in itself, but if proceedings are brought against you for a welfare offence the Court may look at whether or not you have complied with the Code in deciding whether you have committed an offence.

You should not cause any unnecessary suffering to your animal; this could constitute a serious offence under the Act. For further advice, speak to your veterinary surgeon or an experienced horse professional.

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Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids DARDNI
Estimated Size: 459kb

Report a Welfare Concern

Northern Area (10 Councils)

Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Cookstown, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle and Newtownabbey

Telephone: 028 2566 0412

Eastern Area (5 Councils)

Ards, Castlereagh, Down, Lisburn and North Down

Telephone: 028 9049 4567 -

Belfast City Council Area

Telephone: 028 9027 0431

Southern Area (5 Councils)

Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Dungannon and Newry and Mourne

Telephone: 028 3751 5800

Western Area (5 Councils)

Derry, Fermanagh, Limavady, Omagh and Strabane

Telephone: 028 8225 6226

Farm Animals

Welfare complaints in respect of farmed animals i.e. animals bred or kept for the production of food, wool or skin or other farming purposes, should be referred to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development by calling: 0300 200 7840 during office hours. Out-of-hours contact a local private veterinary practice or PSNI who will, as necessary, refer the welfare complaint to the relevant on-call officer.

Wild Animals

Welfare complaints in respect of wild animals or animal fighting should be referred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland by calling 0845 600 8000.

Last Updated: November 2012