A historic victory for animals has been achieved

Livestock Exports Bill completes its Third Reading


May 12th marked three years since the Government published its Action Plan for Animal Welfare (APAW) - a series of commitments and promises made to improve the welfare and treatment of animals across the country. Anniversaries are a good time to reflect on progress made (or progress stalled), and while the Government has not yet delivered on many aspects of this plan, there is reason to celebrate a historic victory.  

While we are still waiting for legislation to progress through Parliament that tackles puppy smuggling and the import of hunting trophies, and while government action on ending the sale and import of fur and foie gras, and any movement towards ending the cruel caged keeping of farmed animals has seemingly stalled, we do today have cause for significant cheer.  

Last night, history was made in the House of Lords, and we could not be prouder. A huge step forward for animal welfare has been taken, which we hope will have a ripple effect around the world. Last night, the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill completed its Third Reading in the House of Lords, and it will soon become law.  

Animal welfare organisations, including FOUR PAWS UK, have won a hard-fought and significant victory for animals, and Parliament has stood on the side of our compassionate nation of animal lovers who wanted this Bill to succeed. Together, with change makers across the animal welfare sector, we celebrate. 

Until now, many thousands of animals across Great Britain have been in danger of extreme harm from the horrific practice of live exports. Now, that risk has finally ended and the many thousands of animal welfare supporters across the country who have been holding their breath can exhale, knowing that animals will be safe from the abhorrent practice of being exported across the sea, to be slaughtered overseas.   

This Bill has been in the making for decades, and campaigners have consistently highlighted the appalling welfare that animals have experienced at the hands of the live export trade. Compassionate Brits have taken part in demonstrations against this cruel and unethical practice at Channel ports across the country, and they have never turned away from this important cause. Grainy images of trucks loaded with cattle and sheep being loaded onto ferries and lorries, and of the frightened, wide-eyed animals being crammed inside with no ventilation, food or water have long since horrified a nation of animal lovers. Animals who have been forced to take long and arduous journeys, surrounded by their own excrement, with little space to sit, stand or lie down, and transported many thousands of miles, where their fate would either be immediate slaughter or a process of fattening before slaughter, will now be safe from this particular form of extreme harm. 

There could have been no better example of the appallingly unnecessary cruelty than the horrors around the Bahija ship, loaded up with 16,000 animals in Australia back on January 5th, bound for the Middle East and forced to return due to political instability in the Red Sea. The animals were finally offloaded back in Australia on February 12 having endured 40-degree temperatures on board while the authorities argued about how to solve the problem. Australia has now committed to end the export of live sheep in 2028, and while this is a long way off, it is a breakthrough that we hope will push more countries around the world to act. Here in Europe, the progress in the UK is already sparking discussions, and it is accurate to say that the modern concept of animal welfare began in the UK, and where we take a lead other nations follow. 

It has taken too long to reach this point, and too many animals have suffered, but today we celebrate the fact that cruel live exports from British shores will never happen again. Together, we have won. 

Kim Manning-Cooper

Head of Communications UK


07500 583565

7 - 14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR


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