Tag Archives: Animal Health

APGAW: Enforcement of animal welfare legislation

Animal welfare legislation: Does it work and is it effective?

On Tuesday, the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare met to discuss ‘Enforcement of Animal Welfare Legislation’. The very packed room listened to a Metropolitan Police Status Dogs unit Officer, an RSPCA Chief Inspector and an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) share their alarmingly similar views on the subject.

Inspector O’Hara, for the Metropolitan Police Status Dogs unit, highlighted that he and his colleagues receive enhanced training  when compared to most police forces. Whilst the police had historically relied on the RSPCA to lead on animal welfare law, he said ‘the sands are shifting’ and this was no longer the case. Elaborating further, he outlined several cases of interest and clarified that his unit have a good re-homing policy, with 118 dogs re-homed this year, where sensible and possible to their original home.

Mark Berry, a Local Authority EHO and member of the Companion Animal Welfare Forum, outlined the structure of service at his Local Authority, Stockton on Tees. He stipulated that his Local Authority (LA) provide a greater service than most LAs and are lucky to operate as a unitary body, rather than being spread across several departments. Mr Berry told us that statutory provision only covers stray dogs and animal licensing covering boarding, pet shops and breeding. Stockton on Tees also offer non-statutory services relating to dog-fouling, non-canine strays, unwanted animal handover, animal welfare issues including cruelty, abandonment, offences, nuisance complaints for all species, dangerous dogs, attacks on people/animals, microchipping, neutering and the promotion of responsible pet ownership. He re-iterated that many councils will only perform the first two statutory duties, yet the demand across the services in his LA is going up year on year since 2008. He believed that lack of suitably trained/qualified staff, facilities and resources, and the cost of instigating prosecutions were equally important factors behind the lack of effective animal welfare enforcement.

Dermot Murphy, for the RSPCA, stated that the three big costs for the charity and its finite resources were examination by a vet, boarding kennel fees and the cost of engaging a solicitor. He agreed with the previous two speakers that the enforcement across the country was patchwork and varied considerably from once LA and police force to another. Consequently, he felt there were currently substantial gaps in animal welfare enforcement.

In summary, all of the speakers felt that animal welfare enforcement could be improved if there were better guidance on precisely who is responsible for enforcement of the various different services outlined by Mr Berry. Furthermore, the provision of adequate resources, funding and experienced staff are key – none of which are likely to be a priority whilst the bulk of animal welfare services remain non-statutory. The question, posed by the RSPCA, of who ‘owns’ the Animal Welfare Act remains unanswered and until it is we will likely struggle on with the current patchwork cover.

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UK Antimicrobial Resistance Summit

Tuesday 18th November was European Antibiotics Awareness Day and the VPRF went along to participate in the UK Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Summit organised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. The event was hosted at Nobel House by Professor the Lord Trees of the Ross, Member of the House of Lords, Nigel Gibbens, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer and Professor Peter Borriello, CEO, Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

EAAD_abx_infographic_2The aim of the meeting was to bring together livestock production industry leaders and animal health representatives from the relevant Government departments and make a unified move from raising awareness to action at a national level.

As part of the cross-Government 5 year AMR strategy substantial outcomes are expected from both the public and animal health sides. However, whilst the Department of Health and Public Health England have the single, public sector NHS to deliver their outcomes, DEFRA and the VMD have multiple different private industry sectors with different issues related to antibiotic use.

EAAD_abx_infographicGeorge Eustice MP (Defra Minister for farming, food and marine environment) and Dr Felicity Harvey ( Director General for Public Health, Department of Health) both spoke at the event to give a sense of the current position of their departments. Prof Borriello spoke on behalf of the VMD.  This was followed by the perspective from industry, with updates from the pig, poultry and dairy sectors, all of whom are at startlingly different stages in their understanding and reduction of antibiotic use.

After lunch there was a round table discussion to consider what had been heard that morning. The main conclusion was that before action can be taken accurate and appropriate data needs to be gathered in one place for in depth analysis. For example, currently it isn’t possible to separate data on sales of pig and poultry antimicrobials into which were used for pigs and which for poultry. Furthermore, sales are not representative of use. There is much work to be done.

BVA Parliamentary Briefing

Briefing Parliamentarians over afternoon tea

The British Veterinary Association hosted an afternoon tea briefing for parliamentarians on Tuesday 4th November at the Houses of Parliament. The briefing, hosted by honorary associate of the BVA – Angela Smith MP, was well attended and a number of MPs and Peers came along to pick up the BVA Briefing packs and chat to BVA Officers and staff of the BVA.

The popularity of this event is reflected in the high levels of attendance. Animal health and welfare are both important subjects for the British public.  If you are interested in any of the BVA briefs please contact them directly or visit the BVA website

·         MPs who attended: David Amess, Sir Roger Gale, Barry Gardiner, Simon Hart, Julie Hilling, Anne McIntosh, Andrew Miller, Neil Parish, Andrew Rosindell, Andrew Stephenson, Bill Wiggin, Roger Williams, plus Anne Marie Adams (Laurence Robertson’s researcher).

·         Peers who attended: Lord Boswell, Lord Curry, Lord Higgins, Lord Trees (and Hannah Jordan – Parliamentary Veterinary Intern), Lord Wigley.

Annual Reception for Eggs, pigs and poultry

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Eggs, Pigs & Poultry

The APPG for Eggs, Pigs and Poultry held its annual reception on Wednesday 29th October, hosted by the chairman of the APPG, Neil Parish MP. The group exists as a cross-party body to inform Peers and MPs interested in the egg, poultry meat and pork sectors. The group has the support of the National Pig Association, the British Poultry Council, the British Egg Industry Council and the National Farmers Union.

The reception is an informal affair and Neil Parish gave a short address on the progress of the enquiry currently being led by the APPG into planning, antibiotics and welfare associated with egg, pig and poultry production. Only the day before, the group had concluded its final evidence session. Several Peers and MPs  attended the reception to chat to the industry representatives about their concerns. These concerns included, but were not limited to: parasitic red mite infestation, the 2018 EU beak-trimming ban and alternative options to prevent cannibalism, African swine fever, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus, and consumer understanding of quality assurance schemes.