This week Richard Holden spoke on the Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill, which introduces new powers to ensure that police are able to issue on the spot fines for various animal welfare infringements - a good measure because currently often police have to choose between a warning and a full court case. For more serious offences, a court case will still be the default but this means that fines can be issued as well as warnings in lower level cases, further bolstering protection for animals.
This is the latest in a series of important measures that the Government has brought forward, and Richard spoke in favour of the measures from the main bill going through Parliament, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, and seeing some of those new laws come into force.
The main areas we're currently legislating on in terms of animal welfare improvements and standards, are as follows:
1.) Puppy smuggling: With new powers to tackle the unethical trade of puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) that can travel under pet travel rules. It will also include powers for the Government to bring in further restrictions on the movement of pets on welfare grounds, for example by increasing the minimum age of imported puppies and restricting the import of pregnant dogs and dogs with mutilations such as cropped ears and tails.
2.) Live exports of animals: EU rules prevented any changes to these journeys, but the UK Government is now free to pursue plans which will see a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. We will become the first European country to end this practice.
3.) Big restrictions on keeping primates as pets: Primates are highly intelligent animals with complex needs and require specialist care. The Government will deliver on its manifesto commitment to introduce a ban on keeping them as pets, ensuring that all primates being kept privately in England are being kept at zoo-level standards and that those unable to meet the standards are phased out.
4.) Livestock worrying: A really big issue among some local farmers who I've met over the last year and a half. The Bill will give new powers to the police to provide greater protection to livestock from dangerous and out of control dogs. The Bill will also extend this protection to other species.
5.) Zoos: The Zoo Licensing Act will be amended to improve zoo regulations and ensure that zoos are doing more to contribute to conservation.
In addition the Government is also looking at something really important to me which is to introduce harsher sentences for Pet Theft. At the moment Pets are treated like any other piece of property that is stolen - Richard thinks that much harsher sentences need to be made available to reflect the emotional toll of having a family pet stolen. (Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56038085)
This is sensibly targeted and important legislation to help improve animal welfare and recently Richard met with Westway Veterinary Group in #Consett and in Parliament and Farplace Animal Rescue with Gareth and the team.