Please note: This is an unofficial translation of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act (Dyrevernloven). This text was supplied to us by the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture (Landbruksdepartementet). We cannot accept responsibility for any errors that may have occurred, either in the translation, in our conversion of this text to Internet pages or due to later updates of the Act.

Code: 750.000 Issued: 16.06.95 Replaces code: 750.000 of 15.11.93


No. 73 of 20 December 1974 Ref. Previous Acts No. 7 of 21 June 1929 and No. 13 of 7 June 1935


Section 1 Animals covered by the Act.

This Act applies to live mammals, birds, toads, frogs, salamanders (newts), reptiles, fish, and crustaceans.

Section 2 General provisions on how animals should be treated.

Animals shall be treated well, and consideration shall be given to the instinctive behaviour and natural needs of animals, so that there is no risk of causing them unnecessary suffering.

Section 3 Inspection.

The police, members of dyrevernnemd (= animal welfare committees) and official veterinarians may, at any time, inspect animals to which this Act applies, as well as the places and rooms etc. where such animals are kept.

Section 4 Animal accommodation.

Persons who own, or have in their charge, livestock, pets, or animals kept in captivity in other ways, shall ensure that an animal has fully adequate accommodation, with enough room, suitably warm, with sufficient light and access to fresh air etc., in accordance with the needs of the animal species in question.
When climatic conditions so permit, the Ministry may, for certain animal species, grant exemptions from the requirement to provide accommodation.

Section 5 Breeding, supervision and care.

It is forbidden to change the genetic structure of an animal by gene technology or by traditional selective breeding if:
1.the animal is thereby unable to exhibit normal behaviour or if its physiological functions are adversely affected
2. the animal is subjected to unnecessary suffering
3. the changes give rise to general ethical concerns.
Persons who own or have in their charge, livestock, pets, or animals kept in captivity in other ways, or who are responsible for supervising such animals on behalf of the owner or person in charge, shall ensure that:
1. the animal receives enough feed and water of adequate quality, in accordance with the needs of the animal in question,
2. the animal receives proper supervision and care, including care of claws and hooves, as appropriate,
3. ties or bars do not injure the animal, or unnecessarily hamper it,
4. sick or injured animals receive appropriate treatment, and are, if necessary, humanely destroyed,
5. animals grazing outlying pastures are brought home before frost and snow are expected in the autumn.

Section 6 Assistance.

Should a person happen upon an animal which is obviously sick, injured, or helpless, he must help it as far as possible. Should it prove impossible to give assistance or sufficient help, and the animal in question is a domestic animal, tame reindeer, or large game animal, he shall, as soon as possible, inform the owner or the person in charge of the animal, or the nearest police authority.
When it is obvious that the animal cannot survive or make a complete recovery, the person happening upon the animal can kill it in accordance with the provisions of Section 10, if this is necessary to spare it from further suffering. A person who kills a domestic animal, tame reindeer, or large game animal, must notify the nearest police authority as soon as possible. Domestic animals, tame reindeer, and large game animals, must not be killed in accordance with these provisions if it is possible to get hold of the owner or person in charge, a veterinarian, or the police, within a reasonable period of time.
Expenses incurred in carrying out measures in accordance with the provisions of this Section shall be reimbursed from public funds, but may be recovered from the owner or person in charge.

Section 7 Medical and surgical treatment.

Only a veterinarian may carry out a surgical operation on, or initiate medical treatment of, animals, when there is reason to believe that such operation or treatment may result in the animal suffering. If there is reason to believe that the operation or treatment can inflict great pain on the animal, the veterinarian shall employ total or local anaesthesia, unless there are medical reasons for not doing so. A person who is not a veterinarian can nevertheless castrate or sterilise reindeer hinds(bucks), and likewise also piglets which are not more than one month old, and without anaesthetising the animal.

Section 8 Certain ways in which it is forbidden to treat animals.

It is forbidden:
1. To kick animals, or hit them with sticks, with ropes or knotted thongs or the like, or to hit them with anything else which may cause as much pain.
2. To use a whip to urge a horse on in trotting or flat/hurdle races.
3. To use live animals as bait or to feed other animals.
4. To force-feed animals.
5. To fire-brand animals except for marking hooves, claws, shells or horns.
6. To dope animals for competition or for other purposes, or to use animals which are doped for such purposes.
7. To train animals in such a way that they may suffer or be unnecessarily frightened.

Section 9 Killing.

The killing of animals shall be carried out in such a manner that they are not caused unnecessary suffering.
In connection with the killing of horses, cattle, sheep and goats, pigs, poultry, rabbits, or domestic reindeer, the animal shall be stunned before being bled. The killing of such animals must only be performed by persons over the age of 16, and who have the necessary skills. As far as possible, killing shall be performed out of sight of other animals.
Animals must not be skinned, scalded, or plucked, before they are dead. This does not, however, apply to crustacea.
The provisions of paragraphs one and two also apply when hunting and catching.

Section 10 Emergency killing.

When an animal has to be killed immediately because it is ill, injured, or helpless for other reasons, this must be carried out so that the animal suffers as little as possible, and in best possible accordance with the provisions laid down in Section 9. The weapon used shall be sufficiently effective so that the animal is not exposed to the risk of unnecessary suffering.
The provisions of the first paragraph above also apply to the killing of domestic animals which have become so wild that they are not able to be caught in the normal way.


Section 11 Certain ways of handling animals which are forbidden.

It is forbidden:
1. To drive animals too hard.
2. To move animals tied to a motor vehicle, including tractors or snow-scooters, in such a way that they run a risk of suffering.
3. To put animals out to graze with hobbles,tied to logs etc. unless seen to daily.
4. To use a training collar on a dog at other times than when the animal is actually being trained.
5. To keep a dog permanently tied up on a leash less than 10 metres long.
6. To put spectacles or the like on poultry to avoid birds pecking each other.

Section 12 Disposal of horses.

It is forbidden to dispose of, buy, or obtain by exchange, a horse which is over 20 years old, other than for immediate slaughter, or together with the farm to which it belongs, when the farm is sold together with the livestock. The same applies if the horse has such disease or such fault that renders it unfit as a working animal.

Section 13 Certain operations which are forbidden.

It is forbidden:
1. To castrate dogs and poultry. Veterinarians may nevertheless castrate dogs when special intended uses make it necessary.
2. To dock ears or tail and to show any animal that has had its ears or tail docked after this Act has entered into force. Ear-marking is nevertheless legal if not more than one third of the ear is removed. The Minstry may issue regulations which, subject to certain conditions, allow exemptions to this ban as regards docking the tails of pigs, if docking is required for animal welfare reasons,and regulations which,subject to certain conditions,allow exemptions from the ban on showing dogs which have had their tails docked.
3. To put a ring in the nose of a pig or employ other painful methods to prevent the animal rooting in the soil. A veterinarian may nevertheless put a ring in the nose of a pig, in accordance with regulations issued by the Ministry, if special intended uses make it necessary.
4. To dehorn an animal. The Ministry may issue regulations allowing exemption to this ban as regards domestic reindeer. The Ministry may also issue regulations which, subject to certain conditions, allow veterinarians to remove the horn buds in other animals, provided they are under six weeks of age, and in special cases, the horns of animals over six weeks of age.
5. To clip or burn the beak of poultry. The Ministry may issue regulations regarding exemptions from this ban.
6. To cut the comb in poultry.
7. To debark dogs by removing the vocal chords.
The provisions of the first paragraph shall not prevent a veterinarian carrying out such an operation for veterinary-medical reasons.


It is forbidden:
1. To suspend live fish on a rod, line, or hook or the like, which is stuck into or through the body of the fish.
2. To keep fish in a net-cage in such a way that they are at risk of suffering needlessly.
3. To place live fish or crustacea in a shop window.

CHAPTER IV SHOWING OF ANIMALS. Section 15 Prohibition against showing animals in public.

Animals other than fish must not be exhibited in public, including public exhibition for advertising purposes or decoration. This ban does not apply to the showing of pets or livestock in connection with breed improvement.
The Ministry may, subject to certain conditions, grant exemption from this ban against the showing of animals. Applications for permission to exhibit animals in zoos, bird parks, and the like, shall be accompanied by detailed plans of the entire exhibition site and its operation, and adequate details of the economic basis for the implementation of the plans.


No person may run animal boarding accommodation without the permission of the Regional Veterinary Officer.
Housing (stables) in which trottinghorses or racehorses are placed shall not be considered to be animal boarding accommodation.

Section 17 Trading in animals.

No person may trade commercially in animals without the permission of the Regional Veterinary Officer. These provisions do not apply to trade which is a natural part of the keeping of the animals concerned.

Section 18 Hiring out of animals.

No person may hire out animals commercially without the permission of the Regional Veterinary Officer.

Section 19 Withdrawal of permission.

Permission given to run an enterprise mentioned in Sections 16-18 may be withdrawn if the licence holder is sentenced to punishment for violation of this Act or of regulations issued in its pursuance, or if he fails to fulfil the conditions to which the licence is subject. The same applies if the licence holder acts in other ways such that he fails to live up to the trust necessary to run an enterprise as described ( in Sections 16-18).


Section 20 Use of animals in teaching.

It is forbidden to use live animals for teaching purposes unless necessary as a part of professional training. The Ministry may refuse to allow such use of animals if there is doubt as to its necessity.
Teaching must be carried out in such a way that the animal is not subjected to unnecessary suffering.

Section 21 Use of animals in research, etc.

No person may carry out biological research on animals without a special licence. A licence may be given if the aim is to find out what kind of disease animals or people suffer from, or if the purpose is to prevent or eradicate disease. A licence may also be granted if the purpose concerns research, preparation or testing of a medicine , drug, poison, etc. for use in people, animals or plants.
Such research must be carried out in such a manner that the animal is not exposed to the risk of suffering more than is strictly necessary for the purpose.
The person who has been granted a licence according to the provisions of the first paragraph, may, notwithstanding Section 9 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act,No. 3 of 10 December 1948, employ total or local anaesthesia on the animals concerned.

Section 22 Licence to carry out research, etc.

A licence in accordance with section 21 is granted by a committee which the Ministry appoints for terms of office of four years.
The King may issue regulations as to how this committee shall be established, terms of reference and working procedures, and on the possibility to carry out inspections.
The King may issue regulations that empower the committee, in limited areas, to delegate the authority to grant licences for biological research on animals to a person approved by the committe as being responsible for such research in an establishment or institution.
The Ministry is the body which shall deal with complaints concerning the decisions of the committee.

CHAPTER VII ANIMAL WELFARE COMMITTEES (DYREVERNNEMNDER), supervision and measures. Section 23 Animal welfare committees.

To supervise the way in which animals are cared for, one or more state animal welfare committees shall be established in each veterinary district. The number of animal welfare committees to be established in any one district shall be determined by the Fylkesmann (County Governor) after having obtained the opinion of the District Veterinary Officer.
Each animal welfare committee shall have three members. In special cases the committee may have five members. The District Veterinary Officer shall act as secretary to the committee. The District Veterinary Officer is not a member of the committee, but is obliged to be present at meetings without the right to vote.
The members, and an equal number of deputy members, shall be appointed by the Fylkesmann for a period of office of four years after having received the submissions of the local council (commune) concerned. Those appointed to serve on the committee must primarily be persons with practical experience of keeping and caring for animals, and with knowledge of, and interest in, animal welfare. No person shall be appointed against his/her will.
The committee itself elects its chairperson and vice-chairperson.
The committee has a quorum when at least half of its members - including the chairperson and vice-chair person - are present.
In order for a decision to be valid, at least half of those in the committee must have voted in favour. The animal welfare committee shall keep the minutes of its meetings. These shall record all decisions taken together with the reasons, and, if such have been made, a record of statements made by experts. By the end of January each year, the animal welfare committee shall submit a report of its activities in the preceding year to the Fylkesmann and the Regional Veterinary Officer.

Section 24 Supervision and measures.

The animal welfare committee shall keep itself informed of the keeping of animals in the district, and carry out inspections without prior notice. Should the animal welfare committee have any reason to believe that livestock, pet animals, or animals held in captivity in other ways, run the risk of unnecessary suffering, the committee shall immediately investigate the situation. If the committee finds there is reason so to do, it shall give advice to the owner or manager as to action which can rectify the situation, or issue the directives which are necessary to ensure compliance with this Act or of regulations issued in its pursuance.The directives which a manager receives shall be notified to the owner.
Should directives not be complied with, the committee shall take the necessary action. The police shall, should the committee so request, assist in the implementation of decisions and inspections. Measures taken in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter shall not prevent charges being made according to Section 31 of this Act.

Section 24a Provisional measures and destruction of animals

Should it prove necessary, the animal welfare committee, police and District Veterinary Officer may decide to provisionally remove animals or in other ways ensure that an animal receives proper care and attention. If the police or District Veterinary Officer have provisionally removed an animal, the decision to do so becomes invalid if it is not confirmed by the animal welfare committee within three days. The period of provisional removal of animals into care shall normally not exceed three weeks. The animal welfare committee shall decide whether the animal shall be returned into the care of the owner, be sold, be placed elsewhere or be destroyed.

Section 24b Destruction initiated by the District Veterinary Officer.

If an animal would be caused unnecessary suffering if it were to be allowed to remain alive, the District Veterinary Officer may immediately take measures to have the animal destroyed. This also applies in the case of animals taken into provisional care according to Section 24a.

Section 24c Animal welfare in the slaughterhouse

The supervising veterinarian shall inspect animals brought to the slaughterhouse, and if necessary notify the animal welfare committee. The supervising veterinarian shall supervise the handling of slaughter animals and may issue any instructions necessary to ensure that this Act or regulations issued in its pursuance are complied with within the area of the slaughterhouse.
The animal welfare committee has the right to inspect but cannot give directives concerning conditions within the area of the slaughterhouse.
The Ministry may make regulations which lay down conditions for the establishment and operation of slaughterhouses, including requirements for approval and conditions for the withdrawal of approval.

Section 25 Decisions and appeal

The Ministry may decide that the District Veterinary Officer or other official veterinarian may take decisions according to regulations issued in pursuance of this Act.
An appeal against decisions taken by the animal welfare committee, the District Veterinary Officer, the supervising veterinarian or the police, may be lodged with the Regional Veterinary Officer. An appeal against a decision made in accordance with the provisions of Section 24b must be submitted immediately.

Section 26 Fines

The King may make regulations which lay down that the animal welfare committee is empowered to fine an owner or manager who fails to comply with directives issued in pursuance of this Act within the deadlines set, in the form of a single fine or as running daily fines. The size of the fine shall be set on the basis of how important it is that the directive be complied with and the costs this involves. An imposed fine may be recovered by lien.

Section 27 Covering and distribution of costs.

Costs incurred in connection with measures taken in accordance with sections 24,24a, and 24b shall be borne by the owner or manager, and may be recovered by lien.
If the owner or manager is unable to bear the costs, or if it is impossible to ascertain who owns or is responsible for the animal, the State shall bear the costs.
The State shall bear the costs related to the work of the animal welfare committee, including travel and per diem expenses, and the fees due to the members, secretary and any experts, according to the current official rates.

CHAPTER VIII MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS. Section 28 Closing of cabins, huts, mountain summer farms, etc.

Nobody must leave a cabin, hut, summer farm dwelling, or other dwelling, barn, or the like, in outlying fields, or in the mountains, without making quite sure that doors are shut in such a way that grazing animals cannot gain entry and become shut in.

Section 29 Fences.

Fences shall be so made and maintained that the risk of grazing animals harming themselves is as slight as possible. Fence remains shall be removed. If the person(s) responsible for the fence do not remove the remains of the fence within a deadline set by the animal welfare committee, the committee shall ensure that this is done. The person(s) responsible for the fence shall bear the costs.
The use, for fences in outlying pastures, of barbed wire unattached to other fencing material which is easy to see, is forbidden. The King may set a deadline for the removal of other barbed wire fencing which existed when this Act entered into force.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the second paragraph, the local (commune) council may, by a decision endorsed by the Ministry, prohibit the use of barbed wire for fencing. Such a ban may apply to the whole or parts of the commune, applying to outlying areas and/or between outlying and home pastures.

Section 30. Ministerial powers to make supplementary regulations.

The Ministry may make supplementary regulations concerning:
1. Animal housing.
2. Transport of animals.
3.Stunning/ anaesthetisation and killing of animals.
4. Requirements for a licence to run boarding accommodation for animals or to trade in or hire out animals on a commercial basis.
5. Rules for the activities of animal welfare committees.
6. Requirements for or prohibition against the importation or the keeping of exotic animals as livestock, pet animals, or in captivity in other ways.
7. Requirements for or prohibition against the use of live animals as lottery prizes.
8.Animal exhibitions and shows when deemed necessary to fulfill the requirements of this Act.
The Ministry may also make other regulations in pursuance of this Act.


Section 31 Penalties.

Violation, either willingly or through negligence, of the provisions of this Act or of regulations issued in its pursuance, may be punished by a fine or a maximum of six months imprisonment. If the person concerned has been previously convicted for such violation, the punishment may be a fine or up to one year of imprisonment.
These penalties shall also apply to persons encouraging or acting as accomplices in such violation.
Violation of this Act shall be considered to be a misdemeanour, no matter how great the punishment.

Section 32 Deprivation of the right to have anything to do with animals.

If a person has, in a particulary serious manner or more than once, violated provisions of this Act or of regulations issued in its pursuance, he may be deprived, either for a specific period of time or permanently, of the right to own, keep, use, trade in and slaughter animals, to care for animals, or of the right to hunt and fish. The sentence may consist of the guilty person being deprived of one or more or all of these rights, and may be limited to apply to particular animal species. Deprivation of such rights may be decided upon, even though the subjective conditions for punishment are not present.
A demand for judgement according to the preceding paragraph may be proceeded with as a criminal case according to Section 31, or as a special case according to the provisions of the penal procedures code (straffeprosessloven). The prosecuting authority shall make such submissions if the animal welfare committee so requests.
If the sentence is to the effect that animals in the care of the condemned person shall be taken away, the police shall, when the judgement is final, give the person concerned a short dead-line by which time he/she must have disposed of the animals. If the dead-line is not complied with, the police shall as soon as possible take steps to ensure that the animals are sold or slaughtered. The condemned person shall bear all the costs.
If the condemned person fails to comply with the sentence, he/she may be punished according to section 31.


Section 33 Where this Act shall apply. Svalbard.

This Act shall, with the exception of Chapter VII, also apply on Svalbard.

Section 34 Entry into force. Transitional provisions.

The King shall decide when this Act is to enter into force. The provisions of Section 13, second paragraph, as regards the docking of the tail in the dog, shall nevertheless not enter into force until such time as laid down by the Ministry.
As from the date this Act enters into force, the following Acts are repealed:
1. The Animal Welfare act of 7 June 1935.
2. The Act of 21 June 1929 on the slaughter of livestock and domestic reindeer.
Regulations and rules made in pursuance of the mentioned acts shall continue to apply insofar as they are not in conflict with the provisions of this Act, until they are repealed or replaced by regulations issued in pursuance of this Act.

These pages have been compiled by Adrian Smith, Professor and Head of the Laboratory Animal Unit at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Views expressed here are not necessarily those of the School. Neither Adrian Smith nor the School can accept responsibility for any errors in these pages, which are made available on the Internet for your interest.