UK Government takes action to improve animal welfare

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The UK Government has confirmed what many pet owners already knew, their pets have feelings, including the ability to feel pain and suffering. This is an important step, as this moves pets from being possessions to sentient lifeforms in their own right.

These latest changes reflect the government’s ongoing commitment to animal welfare which has seen the maximum sentence for animal cruelty rising from 6 months to 5 years.

The Animal Welfare Bill

The Animal Welfare Bill’s key points include:

Greater protection for cats

Microchiped Cat

It is now a legal requirement for all pet cats to be microchipped*. The policy will be monitored by vets and enforced in the same way as it is for dogs. This has led to a 90% compliance rate for dogs and we hope that the current rate of 70% compliance for cats will rise rapidly.

There are many benefits to microchipping a pet, these include:

  • Increased chances of reuniting lost pets with their owners
  • Identifying deceased pets so that owners can be informed
  • Act as a deterrent to pet theft

Greater protections for dogs

UK Media outlets and animal charities have reported on a surge in dog thefts. As part of the Animal Welfare Bill, the government has announced the formation of a taskforce that will look into contributing factors driving thefts. Along with petitioners, we are hoping that this will encourage the government to make dog theft a specific offence.

Other protections* include:

  • The use of e-collars that deliver an electric shock has been banned.
  • Importation rules have been changed in an attempt to stop puppy smuggling
    • Increasing the minimum age of imported puppies.
    • Restrictions on moving heavily pregnant dogs into the UK
  • Prioritise the health and welfare of dogs by prohibiting the importation of dogs subject to practices such as ear cropping and tail docking.

Not only does the animal welfare bill offers increased protections for pets. The bill also increases protections for farm animals and wild animals.

Animal Welfare Bill bans shock collar

Ban on live animal exports

The ban on live animal exports will end the exportation of animals being sent for slaughter or for fattening.

Increased protections for wild animals

These changes see the end of the low-welfare practice of keeping primates as pets and will improve standards in zoos and enhance conservation.

In particular, banning the import and export of hunting trophies from endangered animals.

* Action Plan for Animal Welfare

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