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New Animal Welfare Bill launched to protect pets, livestock and wild animals

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A photo of a puppy in a fieldThere is positive coverage today following the launch of our Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill to improve welfare standards across Great Britain. The story was covered by the Mirror, Evening Standard and Daily Express. The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss was also interviewed by the Daily Mail about our new measures to tackle puppy smuggling.

The UK has long history of leading the way on animal welfare and now that we have left the EU, the Government is committed to improving our already world-leading standards by delivering a series of ambitious reforms, outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

The Bill will raise animal welfare standards in five key areas:

  • 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 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 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.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

The Kept Animals Bill will bring in some of the world’s highest and strongest protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals.

As an independent nation outside the EU we are now able to go further than ever on animal welfare by banning the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibiting keeping primates as pets and bringing in new powers to tackle puppy smuggling.

This builds on the launch of our Action Plan for Animal Welfare and Animal Sentience Bill last month as part of our work to build on our status as a world leader on animal welfare.

The Bill is the second piece of legislation introduced in the last month aimed at driving better standards of animal welfare, after the Government’s decision to formally recognise animals as sentient beings in domestic law through the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. The Government will also announce a series of further reforms this year related to microchipping, pet theft, farm animal welfare and tackling wildlife crime.

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  1. Comment by Christine murrell posted on

    Hurry up and enforce it quickly
    Make sure there aren't loopholes so they get round it by some other means i.e. if sold to be new to herd they have to stay part of herd for a long time
    Farmers are very devious and majority don't care about animals only money
    Don't let it be a farce like the hunting with dogs act which you should also do something about Ban hunting altogether

  2. Comment by Janet Malyon posted on

    Really pleased things are moving in the right direction

  3. Comment by John W. Baxter posted on

    For 40 years as members of the EU we sat on our fat derrieres and witnessed and took part in the abuse of our powers as arrogant humans in what we decided sentient animals could endure in transit.
    What a disgrace we should all be repulsed about as vets signed papers that could have been put to better use......yes ....that is correct.
    I am appalled at what this government beat its chest about and expect no difference in the future be it one side of a line or another.

  4. Comment by Michael Hughes posted on

    Animal welfare? You are slaughtering thousands of healthy disease free badgers! This is a politically driven policy, and not you claim based on science. You deliberately misled the public with a so-called change away from culling when in fact you are stepping up the slaughter. You have lost our trust.

  5. Comment by jenny pink posted on

    Where does the ban of hunting come under this bill. It is being ignored by hunts and police all the time. Wild & farm animals as well as pets are suffering...

  6. Comment by Simon Broddle posted on

    But it's fine to continue stealing pets for profit. No fines, no punishment, no repercussions. And we wonder why crime is on the increase. Frankly there is no common sense.

  7. Comment by Mickdwalters posted on

    This is excellent news.. but why does it take so long?