|LONDON - Children will be banned from buying pets under draft laws aimed at updating century-old legislation.|
The proposed bill would make it an offence to sell an animal to a child under 16, raising the age from 12. It would also ban owners and breeders from docking dogs\' tails for cosmetic reasons or giving animals as prizes.
It would also ensure owners provide suitable housing, food and water for animals in their care.
Animal Health and Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw said the bill published yesterday was the most comprehensive review of the law on pets since 1911.
\"The draft bill extends a duty to promote animal welfare - currently present in farmed animal legislation - to all animal keepers,\" he said.
\"This will mean that all domestic or captive animals must be cared for in accordance with best animal management practices.\"
Animal charity the RSPCA applauded the proposals.
\"The Animal Welfare Bill updates the existing cruelty offence by removing the list of archaic ways in which an animal can be made to suffer,\" it said in a statement.
\"We welcome the prohibition on giving pets as prizes ... as an animal given as a prize comes to be owned by chance rather than the deliberate or conscious decision of the owner.\"
The bill also proposes the maximum penalty for animal cruelty be raised to 51 weeks\' imprisonment from six months and fines be raised to 20,000 pounds from 5,000 pounds.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE