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What Every Animal-Lover Needs to Know About the 2015 General Election Manifestos

What will the forthcoming General Election mean for animals? Bought By Many reviewed the manifestos of all the major parties to find out.

1. Dogs & Cats

The Green Party has by far the most comprehensive set of proposals affecting dogs and cats. Pages 16 & 17 of their manifesto set out measures to protect dogs’ welfare and regulate the pet trade. These include:

  • Updating laws on selling animals, particularly around online advertising
    Introducing mandatory licensing of pet breeders
    Introducing controls on breeding which creates “exaggerated characteristics likely to cause suffering”, such as brachycephaly
    Ending puppy farming and the use of electric shock collars
    Taking more action on dog fighting

The Green Party also proposes to increase protection for greyhounds through a formal review of greyhound racing, and to end the use of dogs and cats in non-medical experiments and military training. Full details are in their separate Animal Manifesto.

Echoing The Greens, The Liberal Democrats promise to “review the rules surrounding the sale of pets to ensure they promote responsible breeding”. Meanwhile, Labour offers a broad pledge to “improve the protection of dogs and cats” with more detail in a separate mini manifesto on animals. Finally, UKIP focuses on tougher jail sentences for people convicted of animal cruelty.

Credit here to The Dogs Trust, whose 2015 General Election Dog Manifesto seems to have been influential on Labour, The Greens, and The Liberal Democrats.

2. Exotic Pets

The Green Party would ban the import of “exotic pets” and make it illegal to keep monkeys as household pets.

The technical definition of an “exotic pet” is any animal that is not native to the Britsh Isles (including hamsters and rabbits); but it isn’t clear whether the import ban would extend to all animals meeting this definition.

Contrary to some reports, the Greens are not proposing to ban keeping pet rabbits in hutches – their proposals on hen and rabbit cages relate to farming.

3. Wild Animals

All the main parties are pledging support for continued action to curb the international wildlife trade and wildlife crime – particularly opposing poaching of rhinos, elephants, and tigers.

Similarly, all parties (apart from The Liberal Democrats & UKIP) are proposing a ban on wild animals in circuses.

4. Horses

The Green Party would review Horse Racing and end the use of the whip.

5. The Badger Cull

Both Labour and The Greens would end the “ineffective and cruel” badger cull.

6. Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing

The Conservatives pledge to protect hunting, shooting, and fishing, and will hold a free vote on overturning the Hunting Act (which banned fox hunting in 2004).

Labour, by contrast, would defend the hunting ban, while The Greens would extend it to cover all hunting of animals for sport – including grouse shooting.

7. Animal Research & Testing

The Conservatives say they will “encourage other countries to follow the EU’s lead in banning animal testing for cosmetics, and work to accelerate the global development and take-up of alternatives to animal testing”, while The Liberal Democrats and UKIP would both seek to minimise the use of animals in scientific experiments.

The Greens go further still, arguing for an end to all animal experiments and increased funding for non-animal research methods.

What about the SNP and Plaid Cymru?

Responsibility for animal welfare in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament where the SNP is in government, but The SNP promises support for action in Westminster to end the ivory trade and protect endangered species like polar bears and bluefin tuna.

Plaid Cymru’s only comments about animals are that they will “support the introduction of a
European-level Animal Welfare Commissioner” and “support adoption at all government levels of the new and comprehensive Animal Welfare law to end animal cruelty”.

Article taken from: https://boughtbymany.com/news/article/pets-animals-in-2015-general-election-manifestos/

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Appeal after hamsters abandoned in shoe box

The Scottish SPCA is appealing for information after several hamsters were abandoned inside a shoe box at a lay-by near Dunblane.

The charity was alerted after the pets were discovered next to the A9 at around 8.30am on Friday.

Hamster

An adult male and female pair had been dumped along with eight babies, four of which had sadly died. The surviving creatures are now in the care of our animal rescue and rehoming centre in Angus.

Animal rescue officer Lauren Graham said, “The hamsters were abandoned in a Nike shoe box which had sawdust, bedding and food inside. Sadly half of the litter had died but we are hopeful the survivors will make it. Abandoning these hamsters in a lay-by was very cruel. There was no guarantee they would be found and it would have been really distressing for them. If anyone knows who may have done this we would ask them to contact our helpline on 03000 999 999. We’ll care for the hamsters and find them loving new homes.”

Abandoning an animal is an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 and anyone found guilty of doing so can expect to be banned from keeping animals for a fixed period or life.

Article taken from: http://www.scottishspca.org/news/2009_hamsters-abandoned-in-shoe-box

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New figures show UK animal cruelty on the rise

Today, the RSPCA announced the disturbing news that in England and Wales, animal cruelty cases are at their highest level to date.

It is reported that in 2014, nearly 160,000 incidents were reported and investigated by the charity. That’s over 400 incidents a day. The RSPCA go on to list some of the cases, which are as horrific as you can imagine. Over 20,000 of them involved ‘deliberate and often violent’ cruelty.

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Despite this rise in numbers – up from just over 150,000 in 2013 – convictions have actually fallen. Just over 1,000 people were convicted last year. The RSPCA reports a 100% conviction rate, but this is still clearly nowhere near enough.

The area with the highest number of complaints was Greater London at 12,202, followed by West Yorkshire with 8,440 and Greater Manchester with 8,069. Overall, West Yorkshire saw the highest number of people convicted at 93, followed by County Durham with 83 and the West Midlands with 64.

It’s hard to believe that in 2015 we are still seeing more and more people abusing animals. Despite all the campaigns, appeals and improvements in legislation, idiots up and down the UK are still carrying out heinous acts on sentient, defenceless creatures, with RSPCA saying more ‘innovative’ methods of cruelty are being revealed all the time. Lovely.

Clearly, we’re simply not doing anywhere near enough. Time and time again, research has shown that cruelty to animals is linked to cruelty to humans. Many convicted murderers for example, have been found to have started out by practicing violent acts on animals. In the US, the FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers. Of 36 convicted multiple murderers questioned in one study, 46% admitted committing acts of animal torture as adolescents. Studies have also found that men who abuse their domestic partners often target the family’s companion animals as well. An abused dog or cat often means there’s a bruised child, spouse or elder in the same home. One US review, entitled Understanding the Link between Violence to Animals and People: A Guidebook for Criminal Justice Professionals suggests those working in criminal justice should pay more attention to reports of animal cruelty. It poses that, ‘When someone harms an animal, the important question to ask is, “Who will be next?”’ A key point and one which is all too often overlooked by authorities, much to the detriment of us all.

So, despite decades of research and documented evidence of the indisputable link between animal cruelty and violence towards humans, the number of people abusing animals and getting away with it is rising.

It’s time to take a long hard look at how we in the UK see our four legged friends. We need to start by showing people what special, unique personalities animals have and how vital it is that we treat them with the empathy, compassion and care they deserve. We have a responsibility to animals in the same way as we do to children, the elderly, those with limited physical or mental abilities and all the other groups on the spectrum of vulnerability which is part of our world. This has to begin by teaching our children about how it is their duty, not their choice, to treat every animal they come into contact with with gentleness and care. In return, the rewards they will receive will be unparallelled. We need to call on the government to once and for all include animal welfare in the National Curriculum now, before it is too late. The government’s own post-legislative scrutiny of the Animal Welfare Act concluded that there is a lack of public awareness surrounding the core responsibilities of pet owners. PDSA /YouGov research conducted in 2012 found that only 31% of owners felt they were familiar with the Animal Welfare Act.

Meanwhile in 2014, a survey of teachers revealed over 95% say teaching children about animal welfare would help make them more compassionate and socially aware.

 

In 2013, the House of Lords debated the issue, with Lord Nash concluding that:

It is not the role of the national curriculum to prescribe everything that might valuably be taught to children. We are slimming down the national curriculum to focus on essential knowledge in core subjects. The draft primary science curriculum requires pupils to be taught about the needs of animals, including food, water and so on, and the care of animals is something that we would expect all good schools to cover in their wider curriculum as part of the soft skills.

Following this, a coalition of animal welfare organisations joined forces in 2013 and lobbied the government to include animal welfare on the new National Curriculum. This was ‘considered’ – and then promptly rejected. In 2014 Lord Nash piped up again, this time stating:

We feel that it is very helpful for young people to learn about animal welfare in the national curriculum, but we do not think it is right to include it, certainly not at this stage. We have a long way to go to make sure that the majority of pupils in this country have an education in core academic subjects first.

This isn’t good enough. Of the 160,000 incidents last year – how many of the perpetrators will we soon be reading about committing murder, rape, or child abuse? Enough is enough. We’re not only letting down our animals, we’re letting down our children – in a big way. The government needs to pull its head out of the sand and realise this isn’t just about teaching kids to stroke fluffy bunnies. A whole myriad of future problems could be prevented if politicians would wake up and realise the intrinsic value animals hold. Sadly, they couldn’t seem less interested if they tried.

However, there is some hope for our children – even if, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is having to be led by the third sector as opposed to our government. In Scotland, the Scottish SPCA’s Prevention through Education programme is now in schools and available to book. The organisation’s free, groundbreaking interactive programme fits into the four capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence, most notably helping children develop into responsible citizens within their communities. Similar schemes are run by RSPCA and SPANA in England.

If you or any of your friends have children, why not find out whether their school would welcome a visit from animal education officers? The lessons the children will learn will stay with them forever and hopefully foster a lifelong love of, and dedication to, animals of all shapes and sizes.  In the meantime, let’s never stop fighting for better education for our children – whether that comes from the curriculum and schools, or ourselves educating the children we know wherever we can.

You can also write to your MP and ask them where they stand on the fact animal welfare is still utterly overlooked in the National Curriculum and if they would consider implementing a more rounded system to teach care and compassion for all sentient beings.

Until that day, we all have an important part to play on our own doorstep, in doing all we can to report on and prevent cruelty to animals. If you see or hear anything, or suspect someone may be heading towards acting violently towards an animal, speak up now.

To report animal cruelty you can call the following numbers:

  • Scotland – SSPCA: 03000 999 999
  • England and Wales – RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
  • Northern Ireland – USPCA: 028 3025 1000
  • Republic of Ireland – ISPCA: 1890 515 515

It’s also worth sticking these in your phone so you always have them to hand.

The fight is not over. Together, we must do all we can to ensure more convictions are delivered to perpetrators of animal crime, more children see the beauty to be found in caring for animals and more four legged creatures live the safe, happy lives they deserve. Let’s stamp out animal cruelty once and for all.

Related articles:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-32399989

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-32403495

 

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Scotland’s seals still being killed

Since 2011, the Marine (Scotland) Act has made it illegal to kill, injure or take a seal. However, fish farmers are still able to obtain a license from Marine Scotland and have been continuing to secretly (and legally) shoot seals all along the coasts.

harbourseals

In 2014, at least 205 seals were shot in Scotland. The number of seals shot in the rest of the UK is unknown.

There are no regulations on killing seals during breeding seasons and many of the seals being shot are likely mothers. Without their mothers to feed them, the orphaned pups will starve to death.

Seals have been targeted by those farming and hunting fish under the false belief that seals are the primary threat to fish stocks. In 2010 the European Commission found that this claim was inaccurate, with Scotland’s porpoises, minke whales and dolphins consuming a similar amount of fish.

Seal numbers are monitored by the Special Committee on Seals (SCOS), who have been appointed by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to monitor seal numbers under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970.

According to the European Commission, seal population have been in a slow decline, with the number of harbour seals in Scotland having fallen by up to 70% since 2000. Seals are also killed as bycatch, with an estimated 391 killed in 2013.

The real problem is not the seals, but the fact that Scottish fisheries remain depleted and overexploited. Seals are simply doing what comes naturally to them and the fact that Scottish fishermen have overexploited Scottish fish is no reason to start killing one of their natural predators.

Save Scotland’s Seals from being Killed is a stakeholder group made up of numerous organisations and individuals against the on-going legal culling of seals. According to them, the easier (and more humane) solution would be to install double skinned anti-predator nets and position fish farms away from known seal haul-outs.

According to the 2014 SCOS report, these modified nets, which include a narrower entrance, are currently being tested.

In the meantime, seals are still being killed legally in the UK, thanks in large part to the salmon industry, which has annual exports of over £285 million and produces 155,000 tons of fish a year.

To keep up to date on this issue, check Seal Scotland’s website or like them on Facebook.

Article taken from: http://theanimalspost.com/2015/04/10/scotlands-seals-still-being-killed/

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Call for licensing of air guns in Scotland

The Scottish Parliament will soon have a full debate on proposals to licence air weapons in Scotland. Air weapons licensing could have a massive impact on reducing the number of cruel and callous attacks that are carried out on animals in Scotland.

cat

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) are asking people to take action by contacting MSPs. They are calling on people up and down the country to let their local MSP know that they are concerned about animals being killed and maimed with air guns, and to ask them to support the provision in the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill (Scotland) Bill to license air weapons.

Domestic cats are particular targets for air guns, and many owners have told LACS of the terrible injuries their cats have suffered, as well as how their pets being shot at makes them feel unsafe in their local communities.

The League Against Cruel Sports would also like to see people with convictions of animal cruelty and wildlife crime refused a licence, in the same circumstances that they are refused general licence permissions.

Stage 1 debate for the Bill is on 23rd April. Please support air gun licences, and help to stop many animals being targeted by thugs with air guns. To take action and contact your local MSP, please click this link:

https://www.e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=122&ea.campaign.id=37929