New regulations to strengthen New Zealand's animal welfare system have been approved by the Government following delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) veterinarian and director for animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says the new regulations relate to a wide variety of animals, and procedures, and clarifies who can perform significant surgical procedures on animals and in what circumstances.

"The majority of the regulations reflect current practice, but some raise the standards under which procedures can be performed. For example, some regulations, such as freeze branding dogs, require that pain relief be provided to the animal throughout the procedure."

The regulations will become law this month. However, to provide time for people to understand their new obligations under the regulations the vast majority will have a delayed commencement and come into force on May 9, 2021.

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Most of the regulations have prosecutable offences which could result in fines and criminal convictions. Others are infringement offences, with a penalty fee attached.

"In all cases where there is a severe impact on an animal, a prosecution would be taken directly under the Animal Welfare Act, which has heftier penalties," Dr Rodwell says.

More information on the regulations can be found at: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/animalregs or by emailing animalwelfare@mpi.govt.nz.