What are codes of practice?

The 5 Welfare Needs stated in the Animal Welfare Act are the accepted framework on which good welfare is delivered. As many people will know already, the 5 welfare needs are:

  • Need for a suitable environment
  • Need for a suitable diet
  • Need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • Need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
  • Need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Codes of practice are the agreed guidelines on how pet owners can meet these welfare needs.

How do codes of practice help protect animals

Codes of practice provide clear guidance to owners on how to meet the welfare needs of the animals in their care.

They also add a level of legal protection. Breach of the codes is not an offence in itself, but if proceedings are brought against anyone for an offence under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act, a court will consider whether or not they have complied with the code in deciding if an offence has been committed.

Codes of practice for rabbits

There have been codes of practice for other species, dogs and cats for example, for a number of years but as is often the way, rabbits were left behind. We are therefore delighted to have delivered the Good Practice Code for the Welfare of rabbits. This document contains codes of practices agreed between a number of stakeholders including the RWAF, the RSPCA and AGPAW (the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare). Each of the stakeholders will publish the document on their respective websites, which means the information will be widely available.

We have been working hard on this for a number of years and are very excited that the codes are now agreed and published. We are extremely grateful to AGPAW for giving it the final push.

These codes were written by a working group of organisations all with a key stake in rabbit welfare, so it will be extremely influential. The next stage will be to have the codes adopted by DEFRA, so that they become statutory. This is the plan for 2022.

The Good Practice Code for the Welfare of rabbits is available for download.

Please help us make rabbit owners aware of these codes by referring them to this page and sharing the document wherever possible.

The infographic is also available for download and sharing.