DAERA provided around £1.25m annually for councils to fulfil requirements under the Animal Welfare Act 2011 and the cut will be devastating to animal welfare.
"This retrograde decision has the potential to see animal welfare officers withdrawn and efforts to tackle animal abuse and illegal breeding halted, problems which are already rife across NI," said the South Down MLA.
"This comes as legal and illegal puppy breeders ramp up their operations ahead of the festive period, all while animal charities are already struggling with overflowing shelters. This move by the department has the potential to massively exacerbate problems and set animal welfare in Northern Ireland back for years.
"I have once again voiced my opposition to the Permanent Secretary. However, as with so much else, this is a direct result of the current political deadlock, and any losses in animal welfare standards can be attributed directly to DUP MLAs - who still after a year and a half refuse to fulfil their whole job. Not content with causing suffering to patients on health waiting lists, it appears the DUP are now happy to cause harm to our animals as well."