Government have only completed or progressed four of the 39 promised actions with progress stalled or reversed on the remaining 35 issues
On the first anniversary of the Action Plan for Animals, the RSPCA has issued its performance scorecard showing progress has been slow. The Society is now calling for the Government to relaunch its plans to keep its promises and make progress for animal welfare.
The charity’s scorecard of the Action Plan shows only three out of 39 promises have been successfully completed into law with a further one progressing; 16 promised actions have stalled and the remaining 19 have not started or in the case of genetically altered animals gone into reverse.
David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said: “We welcomed the Government’s plan last year as it addressed issues we had been campaigning on for some time and these changes could make a real and lasting difference to animal welfare, but we’re disappointed that one year on and little progress has been made in crucial areas.
“We are pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act has been completed along with the Glue Traps Act and we welcome the announcement of subsidy payments for farmers who farm to higher welfare standards but that is where the good news stops. There are 19 important areas that have sadly seen no movement.
“Indeed this week’s Queen’s Speech only saw one Bill involving animals, allowing gene editing of farm animals, which has serious welfare risks.
“In a poll this month* 72% of the public said they wanted more legislation not less on animal welfare so we know the public cares deeply about protecting animals and we urge the Prime Minister to put animal welfare back on the agenda and make good on the Government’s promises.”
Action Plan for Animal Welfare – what was promised?
Among the 39 key issues in the Action Plan for Animals, the Government pledged to ban the import and sale of dogs with cropped ears, bring in mandatory microchipping for owned cats, raise the minimum age of imported puppies and kittens to six months, phase out enriched cages for laying hens and farrowing cages for pigs, end non-stun slaughter, and finally bring an end to live exports.
Many of these issues are in the Kept Animals Bill which has been stalled since last October. This was carried over from the last session and the RSPCA is calling on MPs to reintroduce it as soon as possible so it can complete all its legislative stages before summer recess.
- Pledge to introduce compulsory microchipping for owned cats, a centralised database for microchipped dogs and cats and to give guidance to councils to ensure dogs and cats found at the roadside are always scanned for a microchip – a consultation was launched and it has been announced that mandatory microchipping for owned cats will be introduced through regulations this year (2022) but the Kept Animals Bill has to past first, and a consultation has begun regarding microchip databases
- Pledge to crackdown on pet theft – this was included in the the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill which would make pet theft a specific offence but unfortunately only applies to dogs
- Committed to ban e-collars in the UK due to the harm they can cause to cats and dogs – no further updates have been announced. With the end of the legal review the Government could introduce this simple change quickly.
- To bring in key reforms to end the cruel practice of puppy smuggling and low-welfare kitten and puppy imports by raising the minimum age for imported puppies and kittens to six months – measures included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill but no date set yet
- Banning the import and sale of dogs with cropped ears – measures also included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill
- Improving equine traceability by reviewing the Equine Identification (England) Regulations 2018 to include make it easier for Councils to enforce the rules that all horses must be microchipped, a problem that the RSPCA faces on a daily basis when investigating the welfare of horses fly grazed at the sides of roads – consultation started this month and will finish end of June
- Banning the sale and use of all snares to be banned – no progress made yet whilst Wales has said they will introduce a ban this year
- Greater penalties for the illegal taking of brown hares or introducing a closed season for hares – Government has introduced welcome changes to hare coursing legislation under Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act
- Introducing a total ban on primates being kept as pets – measures included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, though they don’t constitute a total ban, but no date set yet
- Review of the trade in and private keeping of wildlife as pets – no concrete action taken
- Prohibiting adverts of cruel animal entertainments overseas – this was supposed to be in this weeks Queen’s Speech but was omitted
- Ban on trophy hunting – this was also not included in Queen’s Speech as indicated and no progress made
- Banning the import and sale of animal fur – again was omitted from the Queen’s Speech after some members of the Cabinet blocked it
- Giving police new powers to respond to the most serious incidents of livestock worrying – measures included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill but no date set yet for the consultation
- Committed to introducing reforms on farrowing crates for pigs and enriched cages for laying hens – included in the subsidy payments but no date set yet for the consultation
- Reforming method of production labelling for consumers to purchase food that aligns with their values – a consultation and proposals are expected in June
- Pledged not to lower farm animal welfare standards as a result of any future trade agreements – none of the FTAs concluded so far make these protections for farm standards
- Ending live exports of farm animals and equines for further fattening and slaughter – measures included on live exports in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill but no date yet
- Improvements to slaughter including ending non-stun slaughter – no action taken
- Banning the import and sale of foie gras – this has been dropped by the Government
For more information on these issues and more visit: https://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/actnowforanimals
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.
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