The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill
42BR’s Marketing Manager, Sophie Hicks, has written a summary of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill below.
The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has been a popular subject within the Animal Welfare Law community over the last few months, not least because of a certain TOWIE cast member’s new pup. The sheer volume of social media posts reflects the concern caused by the delayed third reading in the House of Commons. Recent Ministerial changes have also led to concerns that the Bill will be dropped by the new Minister for the Environment.
The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill recently had its second reading and is now awaiting its report stage and third reading on a date to be announced. It is designed to enhance protections for kept animals in England and Wales. Kept animals includes farm animals, companion animals, and kept wild animals (primates, zoo animals).
These protections are set out in a number of key areas.
Companion Animals and Puppy Smuggling. The Bill enables the imposition of restrictions on the number of pets that can travel in a single vehicle, or with an individual, under pet travel rules. The aim is to reduce the number of puppy smuggling incidents taking place on our borders. It will allow the Government to impose further restrictions on the movement of pets, such as refusing the importation of pregnant dogs, imposing a minimum age of imported puppies and disallowing the import of dogs with cropped ears or docked tails.
Ear-cropping is an extremely painful procedure and in the UK is illegal but not in a number of other countries where it is often glamourised. According to the RSPCA, the procedure has surged by more than 600% in the last six years alone. The Government has often struggled to prosecute those who carry out the procedure, leading some to question whether the Bill should give police powers to prosecute those who buy illegal mutilated dogs.
Live exports. (These provisions would also apply to Scotland). Whilst European Union rules prevent changes to the excessive, long, and often gruelling journeys live animals make, under the Bill if implemented, the UK Government would be able to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. The UK would become the first European country to implement this ban. This particular point of the Kept Animals Bill ties in well with the recent Animal Sentience Act 2022 which recognises animals as sentient beings - having the capacity to experience feelings and sensations.
Keeping primates as pets. The Government will be able to introduce a ban on keeping these highly intelligent animals as pets unless they are kept at zoo-level standards. Local Councils will be given the power to charge fees to cover costs of applications for primate licenses and vet inspections of the private resident’s premises. Restrictions will also be bought on the breeding, sale, and transfer of primates without specific licenses.
Livestock worrying. If enacted the police would be given more powers over the worrying of farmed animals, e.g. sheep, pigs, cattle etc, from dangerous dogs. This particular part of the Bill will replace the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
Zoos. The Zoo Licensing Act will be amended to improve current zoo regulations and ensure zoos are doing more to contribute to the conservation of wild species and their welfare in captivity. Councils would require specialist training to understand the legislation around the Zoo Licensing Act and the Animal Welfare Act, in order to properly enforce the Act.
The law now recognises through the Animal Sentience Act 2022 that animals are able to experience sensations and feelings. The aim of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill is to enhance kept animal’s welfare and will also ensure animals within England and Wales (and Scotland in respect of the exportation of livestock), are better protected from mistreatment and harm.
The implementation of the Bill has been delayed which has led to the petitioning of the government to implement it as soon as practicable.
You can sign the Kept Animals Bill petition here.
27 October 2022
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