I am grateful to Clive Moulding for providing the following information
The Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 was introduced to cope with the growing problem resulting from what is often looked upon as the 'puppy for Christmas' scenario; where a family tires of a pet or it outgrows the home environment. The law takes effect when an animal is abandoned, whether permanently or not, in circumstances likely to cause unnecessary suffering.
Although perhaps not immediately apparent, this can be an extremely useful piece of legislation for the wildlife officer. The 1960 Act shares the same definition of 'animal' as the Protection of Animals Acts. Consequently, any non-domestic species, including birds, reptiles and fish that have been taken into captivity fall within its terms. This allows the police to deal with the individual who may abandon exotic species and even the wildlife rehabilitator who may choose to engage in 'releases' in an inappropriate fashion. Such powers might, for instance, be brought to bear if previously injured and hand-reared badgers were returned to the countryside without sufficient pre-planning and supervision.
One must also presume, since legislators chose to include the phrase, 'whether permanently or not', that enforcement officials could use this statute against persons leaving species unattended for lengthy periods; as well as the more obvious situation of the young dog being cast out to wander the streets as a stray.
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