3. Overview of powers
Section 32A confers powers on authorised persons to deal with animals that have been taken into possession by an inspector or constable under section 32. The powers in section 32A may be exercised in relation to animals taken into possession under section 32 both before and after the coming into force of section 32A. Sections 32A – 32L set out the procedures that must be followed in relation to the powers in section 32A.
The new powers allow authorised persons to treat, transfer ownership of, or destroy animals taken into possession without the consent of the owner or the need to obtain a court order. The powers can be used in relation to any protected animal that has been seized under section 32 of the 2006 Act, including any animals taken into possession before section 32A came into force.
The new powers involve the service of two new types of notice:
1. a "decision notice" notifying the owner of the animal of a decision to treat, transfer ownership of, or destroy the animal, which must be served prior to implementation of the decision taken in relation to the animal,
2. a "compensation notice" notifying the owner of the animal the amount of any compensation payable after the implementation of the decision.
These notices may cover multiple animals that were taken into possession as a group and are believed to belong to the same person.
Typical order of events / decisions required when animals taken into possession:
As a result of the changes made to the 2006 Act by the 2020 Act, the powers in section 32A will be the default means of obtaining authority to transfer ownership of an animal taken into possession under section 32 in the absence of legal authority from the owner.
The powers in section 32A are the default means of destroying an animal taken into possession under section 32 where destruction of the animal is not permitted by section 35 in the absence of legal authority to do so from the owner.
The powers in section 32A are the default means for administering treatment to an animal if the treatment is not permitted by section 32A(6)(c). Accordingly, section 32A will be the usual means of obtaining authority to administer treatment to a seized animal where the treatment is likely to reduce the value of the animal or affect its character, in the absence of legal authority from the owner.
The court procedure for obtaining a disposal order under section 34 of the 2006 Act may only be used by authorised persons, and certain other persons involved in relation to an animal taken into possession under section 32, where a decision notice cannot be served.