Questions and Answers: Current system and how it works
Q Who investigates reports of animal cruelty?
A Animal welfare officers employed by local councils investigate reports of cruelty against companion animals such as cats and dogs, DARD investigate cruelty on farms, while the PSNI are the first port of call in relation to wildlife crime, along with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, who are also empowered to take action in relation to protected species and habitats.
Q Who can issue the bans on keeping animals either as pets or as livestock?
A Only the courts can ban a person from keeping animals. These bans are usually for specific animals and for one or two years. Lifetime bans are rare.
Q So, who physically enforces the bans?
A They are enforced by nine animal welfare officers across Northern Ireland who are employed by local councils. The USPCA can investigate but has no legal powers.
Q How do they know who has a ban?
A There is no central register for those who have been banned from keeping animals. The Courts Service must be contacted over each individual case.