Regulations and the animal welfare system

Find out about the Care and Procedures Regulations, their relation to the Animal Welfare Act and codes of welfare, and how they fit in the animal welfare system.

Why we need regulations

The Animal Welfare Act (1999) provides for offences and penalties for serious animal abuse or neglect. Before the new regulations, New Zealand didn't have good tools to address low to medium animal welfare offending.

In May 2015, the Government amended the Animal Welfare Act enabling regulations to be made on matters such as animal care and procedures performed on animals.

Regulations fill the gap between the Act and codes of welfare as they:

  • are more specific than the Act
  • are directly enforceable – unlike codes of welfare
  • have appropriate penalties for low to medium offending.

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 are the latest set of regulations to be issued. Most came into force on 1 October 2018.

The Animal Welfare System

If you're an owner or person in charge of animals, make sure you are aware of and understand your requirements under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, codes of welfare and regulations.

Overview of 3 parts of the animal welfare system: Codes of Welfare, Regulations, and the Animal Welfare Act 1999

The animal welfare system

Image provides an overview of 3 parts of the animal welfare system: codes of welfare, Regulations, and the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Codes of welfare

  • Detailed minimum standards for specific species and situations.
  • Reflect good practice and scientific knowledge.
  • Not directly enforceable, no attached offences.

Animal Welfare Act 1999

  • High level obligations to provide for an animal's physical, health, and behavioural needs.
  • High level offences and penalties for the most serious cases.
  • Example: A dog left in a hot vehicle is fatally, or near fatally, heat stressed.


  • More specific than the Animal Welfare Act.
  • More directly enforceable than the codes of welfare.
  • Low to medium level penalties for lower level offending.
  • Example: A dog in a hot vehicle becomes heat stressed.

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Care and Procedures Regulations

What you need to do

The Care and Procedures Regulations relate to:

  • stock transport
  • farm husbandry
  • companion and working animals
  • pigs
  • layer hens
  • crustaceans
  • rodeos
  • young calves (incorporating the regulations from the Animal Welfare (Calves) Regulations 2016)
  • surgical or painful procedures

Most of the regulations are based on existing minimum standards in the codes of welfare. But for some, you may need to:

  • change farm policy
  • provide additional staff training
  • make other changes to the way you care for your animals.

When the regulations apply

Most of the regulations came into force on 1 October 2018. Regulations around disbudding and dehorning cattle are delayed until 1 October 2019 to give animal owners and practitioners (veterinarians and contractors) time to prepare.

To make sure codes of welfare are consistent with the regulations, the regulations make changes to some minimum standards. These changes take effect in October 2018 – the codes have been updated and reissued.

Regulation penalties

Each regulation has an associated penalty. The penalty level is determined by whether the offence is:

  • an infringement – resulting in a fine but no criminal conviction
  • a prosecution under regulations – more serious than an infringement offence and may result in a criminal conviction. The court can impose a fine up to the maximum in the Regulations. There is no imprisonment for regulation offences.

View a list of offences and related penalties [PDF, 193 KB]

In more serious cases of animal welfare offending, prosecution under the Act may be appropriate and can result in:

  • higher fines
  • imprisonment
  • disqualification from owning animals.

If you get an infringement notice

If you are issued an infringement notice you should read the 'Notes' on the back.
You can:

  • pay the infringement fine in full
  • request a waiver of the infringement if you think there are circumstances that are grounds for a waiver
  • request a defended or non-defended court hearing.

Find out more about:

If you have been charged with a prosecutable offence

If you are charged with a prosecutable offence under the Regulations or the Act, you or your legal representative will have to appear before the District Court under normal criminal court processes.

More regulations in development

MPI will release more animal welfare regulations as they are developed.

Stay up-to-date on regulations by:

Who to contact

If you have questions about animal welfare, email

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