For the first time in the UK, an improvement notice has been served on a member of the public. An improvement notice is a means by which welfare inspectors can make owners take action to improve their animal’s well-being. Failure to comply leads to prosecution.

Owner Gordon McPhail, of Torrenyard, Ayrshire, was served with an improvement notice by a Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals inspector on 24 January, after his six mares and three foals were found in a poor condition in a field strewn with debris.

International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) field officer Adam Fleming was present when the notice was served.

“It gave the owner a real shock,” he said. “He was given five days in which to rectify their situation and, when we revisited him after two days, there was a massive improvement in care.”

The Animal Welfare Act came into being in Scotland last October — it comes into effect in England on 6 April.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (15 February, ’07)