The Scottish press recently reported the launching of a law firm claiming to be the first in the UK specialising in animal protection law.
Advocates for Animals (AFA) consists of a team of animal protection law experts who have worked with nearly all animal protection organisations in the UK. You can access their site here: It has been founded by David Thomas, a solicitor well known for his work in animal protection law and another solicitor, Edie Bowles, a trustee for the UK Centre For Animal Law. Its mission is to help charities to ensure the law is complied with in the way Parliament intended. Also that the protection given to animals by legislation is honoured in practice. Enforcing animal protection law is a major issue for those working within it.
Animal Protection Law
Animal protection law is now a serious discipline. It is taught in colleges and universities. There is a large quantity of international and domestic legislation and agreements. How we view animals is attracting greater public interest than ever before. We are more concerned about how we treat the animals we eat and the rise in veganism is partially linked to the question of whether we should at all. There are television programmes about the work of vets, zoos and rescue centres, with high profile public figures backing them. Animal law ties in closely with environmental issues, another growth area.
Yet at the same time, the RSPCA, The Blue Cross and equine rescue charities such as World Horse Welfare will attest to the growing numbers of cruelty and abandonment cases in relation to animals. Battersea Dogs Home and other less well- known small animal rescue centres have to turn animals away. In the last month, there was a report of 204 neglected horses. They were picked up by a joint effort among several charities from one site alone. It is not unusual to find a field of 50 plus horses and ponies abandoned, with serious health issues.
Animal Welfare Law
Not all cruelty cases are deliberate and many stem from a lack of knowledge or mis-placed well meaning actions. Raising the profile of animal law and showing what is unacceptable treatment can help with education and improve animal lives, not only domestic and pet animals, but farm and captive zoo animals, not to mention those used for scientific purposes.
It is an area of law which is attracting growing interest. It offers an interesting, worthwhile and challenging environment to work in. This first firm may well prove not to be the last, a welcome development if you’re an animal. (Though if you are, you’ll probably not be reading this…)
If you are interested in animal welfare law issues, you might like to get in touch with the UK Centre for Animal Law (A-law), here: which is a charity bringing together lawyers and other people interested in animal protection law to share experience and to harness that expertise for the benefit of animals. Brenda Gilligan here at Ringrose Law is a long-standing member.