Delivering on the Kept Animals Bill for Improved Animal Welfare in the UK
The Kept Animals Bill aims to address significant animal welfare issues in the country, but its progress has been delayed due to on-going national events. Now, colleagues in Parliament and organisations like the British Veterinary Association are urging the government to ensure the Bill's continuation through Parliament to improve the lives of millions of animals.
It has been a time of great change recently, both in Westminster and for the nation. Understandably, these events have altered the parliamentary schedule and delayed the progress of important legislation, such as the Kept Animals Bill.
This vital Bill will address some of the significant animal health and welfare issues we are currently facing in the UK. With this in mind, along with many of my colleagues in the Houses of Parliament and key organisations like the British Veterinary Association (BVA), of which I am an Honorary Member, I am urging the Government to deliver on its commitment to animal health and welfare by ensuring the Bill’s continuation through Parliament.
This crucial and long-awaited piece of legislation was due to have its remaining stages heard in September 2022, after being carried through from the previous parliamentary session. Regrettably, this date was postponed due to national events and, almost five months later, we are still awaiting a date for its return.
The Bill will address a range of important animal welfare issues; introducing measures to tackle the problem of dogs attacking and worrying livestock, prohibiting the import of dogs and cats which have undergone mutilations, like cropped ears, a procedure that has long been illegal in this country, and setting a minimum age for the import of puppies and kittens.
As well as improving animal welfare, the introduction of a minimum age for import could also help to reduce the risk to human and animal health of zoonotic diseases, such as Brucella canis, from entering the UK, if combined with adequate pre-import testing, the results of which are more accurate after an animal reaches six months of age.
The welfare of other species will also be addressed by the Bill, with the introduction of a robust and effective licensing regime for all privately kept primates, as well as a tightened definition of what constitutes a zoo.
This Bill, which was set out in the Conservative Party manifesto and has attracted a good deal of cross-party support, is a golden opportunity to improve the lives of millions of animals, as well as addressing many of the issues highlighted in the recently announced Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into pet welfare and abuse. Nine months have passed since its second reading in the House of Commons, and it is essential now that the Government prioritises this vital piece of legislation and sets a date for its remaining stages.
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