Animal Charity

GREAT NEWS! Government launches second Animal Welfare Bill to protect pets, livestock and wild animals kept here in the UK 

What does this new Bill mean for animal welfare?


Earlier this morning, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the environment minister The Rt Hon George Eustice MP announced a new animal welfare bill to cover those animals kept here in the UK. It’s exciting to already see another Bill coming from the Government following the promising Queen’s speech back in May, and the Sentience Bill that quickly followed that. This Bill will also be delivered as part of the Government’s flagship Action Plan for Animal Welfare

We at FOUR PAWS have worked hard to raise these issues over the years, and we sincerely welcome this progressive Bill for animal welfare. The Bill covers some key animal welfare issues we have been fighting for, including: 

Puppy smuggling: The Government will introduce 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 docked tails. 

Live exports: Live animals can endure excessively long journeys during export, causing distress and injury. EU rules prevented any changes to these journeys, but the UK Government is now free to pursue plans which would see a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. We will become the first European country to end this practice. 

Banning keeping primates as pets: Primates are highly intelligent animals with complex needs and require specialist care. The Government will deliver on its 2019 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. 

Livestock worrying: 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 such as llamas, ostriches and game birds. 

Zoos: The Zoo Licensing Act will be amended to improve zoo regulations and ensure that zoos are doing more to contribute to conservation.  

The Government has also announced that as well as the new Kept Animals Bill, they will also release a series of further reforms this year covering microchipping, pet theft, farm animal welfare and tackling wildlife crime, which are all very important issues for animals and ones FOUR PAWS UK has spoken out on before. 

Following today’s bill and the proposed actions on illegal puppy smuggling, live exports and the ban on primates as pets, Brian da Cal, Director at FOUR PAWS UK says: 

“We are delighted that the Government has made strong and decisive actions to protect an array of animals today. We are now a step closer to a banning primates as pets and tackling the illegal puppy trade. Additionally, the Bill addresses fashionable, but cruel trends such as ear cropping, before they become too widespread. Most heartwarming is the materialisation of a ban on exports of live animals for slaughter and fattening – the first country in Europe to do so! Millions of animals endure horrendous conditions as they travel long distances to be sold on the continent, but if this Bill is passed, no more. With the elements outlined in today’s Bill the UK could once again reclaim its crown as upholding the strongest animal welfare legislation.”  

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Emily Wilson

Head of Programmes UK

Emily heads up the Campaigns Team at FOUR PAWS UK, managing our farming, wildlife and companion animal campaigns. She has worked for over a decade in conservation and animal welfare, protecting animals both in the UK and worldwide.

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