Last week Wales published their brand new action plan for animal welfare, outlining their priorities for the next five years and how they intend to uphold the high UK standard of animal welfare.
We sincerely welcome this action plan which recognises the One Welfare Framework – an approach which sets out the interconnections between animal welfare, human well-being and the environment.
Through this approach, the Welsh Government has outlined its key priorities that it plans to deliver for animal welfare including:
1. Introducing mandatory registration for animals in private keeping
2. Improving the qualifications of animal welfare inspectors
3. Ensuring CCTV in all slaughterhouses
4. Restricting the use of cages for farmed animals
These are all great steps to improving the lives of wild and farmed animals. The Welsh Government also plans to continue its current animal welfare policy work, focusing on:
1. Updating guidance for Local Authority enforcement officers, particularly around the implementation of Lucy’s Law (the ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens)
2. Updating guidance around breeding of dogs
3. Introducing mandatory licensing of animal exhibits and animal establishments
4. Researching the effectiveness of microchipping cats
The Welsh Government will also collaborate with central UK Government to support and implement legislation following the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill (which covers primates as pets, puppy imports, pet theft and live exports) and legislation around live animal transport around Wales.
Whilst FOUR PAWS UK welcomes many of the commitments made in this plan we would like to see even more being done in Wales to address critical animal welfare issues and wording strengthened in places.
Although the Welsh Government plans to update various piece of legislative guidance such as around Lucy’s Law and the breeding of dogs, we have concerns that without adequate education, crime will continue through ignorance. We also want to see support for the FOUR PAWS Model Solution, where puppies that have been microchipped under law at eight weeks of age, are registered to the breeder and this information is required in order to advertise on third-party sites. This would allow for full traceability of the online puppy trade.
FOUR PAWS UK also calls for a total ban on cage keeping farm animals, and are concerned about the suggestion of only “restrictions” on the use of cages. Only a total ban on enriched cages for laying hens and farrowing crates for sows will protect the lives of millions of animals.
Also missing is any discussion around a national food strategy and public procurement. We must see the devolved assemblies pushing for higher animal welfare standards in our food procurement policy, as well as a commitment to meat and dairy reduction in order to reduce the number of animals being farmed, but also to address the direct link between livestock farming and climate change.
The Welsh Government need to go further to truly address the most pressing animal welfare issues of today and we will continue to campaign for these changes to be made.