East Belfast Alliance MLA, Cllr Naomi Long, has welcomed the fact that new legislation on keeping dangerous animals has now come into force in Northern Ireland. The Alliance Councillor had written to the Government calling for the urgent extension of the Wild Animals Act to Northern Ireland last year after concerns about big cats roaming the local Countryside.
Naomi Long said, “I am pleased that the Government has at last responded to calls from public representatives and animal welfare organisations and introduced this legislation to Northern Ireland. It is disappointing that whilst this legislation was introduced to England in 1976, it has taken until 2004 to reach Northern Ireland and in the meantime, whilst a person needed a license to keep a dog, you could keep a tiger or a snake with no such restrictions.
“In addition to the obvious concerns raised about the big cats last summer, I believe that this legislation is necessary to protect the welfare of the many exotic pets which are being imported to Northern Ireland and kept by people who are thoroughly unequipped to look after their specific needs.
“The introduction of this act will mean that people who keep dangerous wild animals will require special insurance and will have to be able to prove that the animals are being kept safely and properly.”