Why is this important?
Looking after pets
If you own a pet, it’s important you look after it properly.
This page tells you what your responsibilities are and where to get help if you need it.
The law says you must look after your animal by making sure it:
- has a proper diet, including fresh water
- has somewhere suitable to live
- is kept with or away from other animals, depending on its needs
- is allowed to express itself and behave normally
- is protected from, and treated for, illness and injury.
If you don’t look after a pet properly you could be fined, sent to jail or banned from owning animals.
Help with looking after your pet
If you have problems looking after your pet, there are a number of charities who can help. Or you could ask your vet for advice.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
Advice line: 0300 123 4555 (Mon-Fri 9.00am-5.00pm)
The Blue Cross
If you are elderly or terminally ill
The Cinnamon Trust has a network of volunteers to provide help such as walking the dog for an owner who can no longer do so. It has a national pet fostering service for a pet whose owner goes into hospital, and also provides long term care for a pet whose owner has died or moved into accommodation that does not accept pets. The Trust maintains a register of pet-friendly care homes and sheltered housing schemes.
If you are admitted to hospital or placed in local authority residential care or a nursing home
If you are admitted to hospital or is placed in local authority residential care or nursing home your local authority has a duty to take care of your pet, although you may have to pay for any costs of temporary shelter for your pet.
If you have suffered domestic violence
Some animal charities foster the pets of those escaping domestic violence. You can contact a charity directly or ask a refuge or Women’s Aid to refer you. If you contact the charity directly you may need to show them confirmation you are fleeing domestic violence such as a letter from a social worker, police domestic violence unit or temporary housing provider. Foster placements are for an average of six to nine months. Once you are in accommodation that takes pets, the pet can go back to you.
Dogs Trust Freedom Project - Greater London
Dogs Trust Freedom Project - Yorkshire
Paws for Kids - Cheshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and North East Midlands
Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare - Kent, East and West Sussex
RSPCA Pet Retreat - nationwide
Wood Green Foster Circle - nationwide
Making sure your pet is looked after while you are away
You’ll need to make sure your pet is looked after if you go away, for example on holiday or to hospital for a long time. If a family member, good neighbour or friend can’t help look after your cat or dog, you could contact a local kennel or cattery. You should be able to find details of these in your local telephone directory, or ask your vet.
Other useful information
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) provides information on the legal responsibilities of owning a cat, dog, horse or non-human primate as well as wild animals.