Animals-in-Law analyses the major criminal legislation that affects animals and our legal duty in caring for them.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 [AWA] deals with how we abuse and are cruel and negligent in our treatment of animals.
There is also an analysis of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 [DDA].
That is of concern to many people who own 'prohibited' dogs as well as members of the public, often children, who are attacked by them.
Both Acts are the most important that relate to and reflect the legal limbs of cruelty to and failure to control dangerous animals.
So it examines in-depth the crucial legal aspects that will affect most owners and most victims.
It is a deliberate choice to cover the two main criminal statutes only as otherwise the book would simply be too unwieldy and of limited value to the potential users.
This book is intended for use by both lawyers and discerning laymen.
The AWA, which replaced the Protection of Animals Act 1911 [POA], has completely changed the face of animal law. While the POA was largely concerned with active 'cruelty' and 'unnecessary suffering' of animals, the AWA by contrast places a legal burden on every owner as they have 'a duty of care' towards their animals.
Therefore if they breach their duty by intentionally or recklessly causing an animal to suffer they are liable.
Equally if they breach their duty by omission they are liable as for example by not calling a Vet to treat a sick or injured animal or failing to provide adequate food or shelter.
Similarly a person would be liable if they placed their animals at risk of a fire by breaching Fire Regulations so their welfare was compromised.
So in some instances it places an almost strict liability upon the owners unless they have a statutory defence.
The position under the DDA is similar in that a dog which was otherwise of a gentle disposition may be deemed to be 'dangerous' if it attacked another person or more likely a child or indeed another dog.
Often the owner does not even realise his soft sweet-natured pet 'Staffie' named Springsteen is actually a crossbreed Pit Bull Terrier previously named Genghis and so is in breach of the Act by simply being born. As a result he could be sentenced to death. The potential reader needs a clear and concise and comprehensive book that deals with all the case law and interpretation of the legislation.
This book is directly aimed at answering the practical needs of the animal keeper and owner.
It informs the reader of what is their best and worst position namely: whether they have a defence; if so, can they elect for a Trial; if no, what is the best defence mitigation and likely sentence; will the sentence include a disqualification from owning animals and do they need expert evidence for their defence or mitigation where the life of their animal is at stake?
The benefits to the reader are that the contents are specific as a complete guide to the two most important Acts which most practitioners and those involved in animal welfare would face on a daily basis.
The approach is analytical so each and every section of the respective Act is explained in conjunction with a consideration of the relevant case law.
Given that it covers a new Act, some of the statutory concepts and clauses have not been considered in this context by the Courts before. Therefore guidance is given by interpreting the background material which assists those who are involved in the prosecution and the defence of defendants and victims and animals.
The AWA and DDA and Sentencing Guidelines of both Acts are included in full in the Appendices.
The Chapter headings are divided so the text can be followed at a glance and are cross-referenced to other relevant sections.
The Index is clear and complete for easy reference to the text.
While there are, as with Blackstone's Criminal Practice, no distracting footnotes, each and every authority under both Acts are analysed and criticised where they are found to be wanting.
Hence the reader can consider the reason and right course of action before taking the decision to act or refrain from action.
Animals-in-Law has a wide potential readership as it will provide guidance to practitioners who practise in the Magistrates' Court and the Crown Court.
It would also be useful to those appealing by Case Stated and Judicial Review and to the Court of Appeal. However the reader does not have to be legally qualified as in form and format, it is a reference source for people who have a direct and indirect interest in animal law.
That would include organisations that exist to promote animal welfare and animal rights such as the RSPCA, the LACS, Animal Aid and Viva! plus the staff of County Councils and Local Government.
As the book seeks to help those seeking to help animals it provides a legal guide for vets, care workers and discerning lay people who run sanctuaries.
Although the book is rooted in English Law by virtue of the author's own experience and knowledge, it is relevant to other jurisdictions that are based on the common law.
As it is a book dealing with practical issues rather than an academic tome, it would be of value to savvy organisations like the International Society for Animal Rights and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
For both organisations have a lot of influence and are zealous in taking action to promote animal welfare and rights as well as the legal status of animals in the American Courts. This book deals with all the main practical legal problems that people who are working with animals are likely to meet in the context of criminal law within the AWA and the DDA.
All in all it is the seminal work on the subject. A concluding Chapter considers the legal role and status of animals, that ties together the inherent problems within the existing legislation as well as suggestions for the future of the relationship between animals and us.
You cannot forge a future without considering the problems of the past and present.
Indeed that is the quintessential benefit for the reader of the measured analysis within Animals-in-Law.