Report an animal welfare issue
We are responsible for enforcing the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011. This applies to non-farmed animals only - these are domestic pets of any vertebrate species and equines such as horses and donkeys.
We have a dedicated animal welfare officer in Belfast who is responsible for ensuring the welfare of non-farmed animals in the Belfast City Council area.
If you have any concerns about a domestic animal, horse or donkey or think an animal is suffering from neglect you should call animal welfare.
Our animal welfare officer can take action to improve the welfare of non-farmed animals including:
- providing advice
- issuing an improvement notice
- taking animals into their possession and
- taking prosecution action
We will investigate complaints and enforce the legislation, but an animal's welfare is always the responsibility of its owner or keeper.
All reports are confidential and you can report concerns anonymously. Any personal data provided is retained in line with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Report by phone
You can phone us:
- during normal office hours on 028 9027 0431
- outside office hours - if you find an animal in need of urgent attention between 5pm and 8am on any day please contact your veterinary practice.
Welfare of farm animals
Welfare complaints about farmed animals (animals bred or kept for the production of food, wool or skin or other farming purposes) should be referred to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). You can call them on 0300 200 7840 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) or, if it's out-of-hours, contact a local veterinary practice or the PSNI who may refer it to the relevant on-call officer.
Welfare of wild animals
Welfare complaints about wildlife crime such as badger baiting, bird poisoning, deer poaching, or animal fighting should be referred to the PSNI on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You should also contact the PSNI about wild animals or animals on the road.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What should a responsible owner do to ensure an animal is well looked after?
A: Anyone who is responsible for an animal must ensure that its welfare needs are met by:
- providing a suitable environment
- ensuring it has an appropriate diet (what it eats and drinks)
- providing the animal with the opportunity to display normal behaviour patterns
- addressing any need the animal may have to be housed with or apart from other animals, and
- ensuring that its being protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
Q: If I report a problem, will I get an update about what action has been taken?
A: Your concerns will be investigated by a animal welfare officer where they will make a decision based on the evidence they collect and will decide what appropriate action is needed. We are unable to discuss specific action that may be taken against an individual or disclose into the public domain the personal details of those involved unless the case in question is subject to a hearing in court. However, general information may be disclosed to confirm we have treated the report seriously and dealt with it appropriately.
Q: What might happen if an animal welfare officer calls?
A: The Animal Welfare Officer will visit the owner of the animal to investigate a report of animal cruelty, concerns over animal welfare or if a domestic animal is in danger. They can take a range of action depending on what they find when they call out, including advice, issuing an improvement notice (a legal notice served to ask an owner to clean the place up or provide shelter or take an animal to a vet) or in extreme cases seizing an animal.
If you fail to meet the animals welfare needs or if you cause unnecessary suffering you could be prosecuted.
Q: Can I contact the animal welfare service to re-home my dog?
A: It is the owner’s responsibility to re-home their dog. Please contact animal sanctuaries to see if they can assist with re-homing. They will need information on the breed of dog, type, age, its microchip number, if it's vaccinated, and its temperament.
Q: Should I ring Animal Welfare to report a barking dog?
A: If you believe a dog has been abandoned or is sick or mistreated call our animal welfare service. However, if you are making a noise complaint about a barking dog you should contact our dog warden service. You can contact both services on 028 9027 0431.
Q: Do you rescue stray dogs?
A: Our Dog Warden service will collect stray dogs. You can then check to see if your dog has been picked up by our wardens or taken to our dog pound at:
Nutts Corner Boarding Kennels
18 Dundrod Road
Telephone: 028 9082 5317
Remember, if you're collecting a lost or stolen dog please call in advance and bring photographic ID, your dog's licence number and the release fee.
Q: What should I do if I find a stray dog?
A: If you find a stray dog you should contact our dog warden service on 028 9027 0431.
They'll arrange to collect it. You may also be asked for:
- your name, address and telephone number
- a description of the dog including its type, colour, size and approximate age
- the time, date and location where you found the dog.
Q: What do I do if my animal dies in the house?
A: You must make your own arrangements to dispose of your animal.
Q: Do you rescue cats?
A: No we are not responsible for animal rescue.
Unlike dogs, cats are free to roam and will often spend long periods away from their home. They are more likely to do so if they are being fed by different people. Our advice is not to feed cats you don't own as it will increase the chances they will not return home.
Q: Do you deal with feral (wild) cats?
A: No. The Cats Protection organisation is experienced in these matters and will provide advice. Call 028 9048 0202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Who do I call if I find a dead animal on the road?
A: You can report it to our Street Cleansing section on 028 9027 0230 or email email@example.com
Q: Who do I contact if I am worried about the welfare of a wild animal or if I am concerned about a wild animal being used in criminal activity?
A: Concerns about wildlife crimes, such as badger baiting, poisoning of birds, destroying or disturbing bat roosts, releasing non-native species in to the wild, trapping wildlife illegally, trade in endangered species, deer poaching or other criminal activity should all be reported to the PSNI on 101, or in an emergency 999. You can also report wildlife crime anonymously by calling Crimestoppers and 0800 555 111.