The upcoming Queen’s Speech on the 11th of May will mark the start of the parliamentary year and will set out the Government’s agenda for the new session. FOUR PAWS UK has joined with the RSPCA and many other animal welfare charities in calling on the Government to make several changes for the betterment of animal welfare across wild, companion and farm animals.
What changes do we want to see for wild animals?
The private keeping of primates as pets must end. With approximately 5,000 being kept as pets across the UK we must protect these intelligent, social and long-lived animals from being kept alone in bird cages in their owners’ living room.
We also want to see a ban on the import and export of hunting trophies and send a message to the international community to do the same. with no loopholes that may assist in the covert trade of trophies. Lion numbers have decreased from around 450,000 in the 1950s to just 15,000 now, with British trophy hunters killing at least 60 lions since the shooting of Cecil in 2015. This cruelty must end.
We’re also calling on the Government to #WearItKind and ban the import and sale of fur. The UK imports £50-70 million of fur annually, equating to around two million animals being killed just for British fashion. Although the UK banned fur farming in 2003, these figures show that we are still very much a part of this cruel trade. We must have a #FurFreeBritain.
How can we improve the lives of farmed animals?
Although the UK calls itself a nation of animal lovers, there is still a long way to go. We want to see an end to live animal exports for slaughter or fattening, where animals suffer long journeys of sometimes 96hrs to countries like Spain, without adequate care, food or water. The Government must impose a maximum journey time of 8 hours for cows, sheep, pigs and end of lay hens.
We also want to see the Government clearly set out how it will ensure farm standards are safeguarded when it comes to trade deals with other countries such as Australia, USA, or India, that generally have a much lower standard of welfare for their farmed animals than the UK. We should not be making trade agreements that allow the importation of meat or other animal products that are produced with lower animal welfare standards than those required by UK law, and undercut our British farmers that have prioritised animal welfare. As well as this, the Government should phase out farrowing crates completely by 2027 - the outdated, barbaric practice of putting pregnant sows in farrowing crates means she cannot even turn around - and, also, "enriched" cages for poultry by 2026. We must end the cage age once and for all.
How can we improve the lives of companion animals?
Pet theft is on the rise in the UK, with DogLost reporting a 170% increase during the pandemic, as well as the average price of a puppy which has increased from £970 in March 2020 to £2,062 in January 2021. This profit is leading to more and more unscrupulous breeders selling puppies, often sick and likely to die soon after joining their new families due to poor breeding and a lack of care. The Government has committed to set up a taskforce dedicated to tackling pet theft, but we want to ensure that a solution to pet theft is delivered by this taskforce before Parliament breaks for summer recess 2021.
The Government should also introduce legislation to raise the minimum age for imported puppies and kittens to six months, instead of the current 15 weeks in order to help end tackle the illegal puppy trade, and they must also help regulate the national puppy trade to ensure that dogs are protected throughout their lifetimes.