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Animal welfare guidance to be scrapped by Conservative ministers

Labour says move would ‘endanger Britain’s proud tradition as a country that stands up for animal welfare’
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Guidance on animal welfare standards is to be scrapped and codes devolved to the farming industry itself, under plans drawn up by Conservative ministers.

The move by ministers to create industry-led regulation will start with a transfer of the code on chicken-farming to the poultry industry on April 27, according to the Guardian.

The British Poultry Council – which includes meat processing giants among its companies – will be in charge of the new animal welfare guidance.

Other livestock sectors, including the cattle, pig and sheep industries could also face similar changes.

The Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, is overseeing the plans as part of her department’s deregulatory agenda. The RSPCA, however, said the new rules may only serve to help ensure animal keepers are compliant with minimum legal requirements.

Kerry McCarthy, the shadow Environment minister, warned the move risks undermining consumer confidence in the food they buy. Labour said to the Guardian the plans were “endangering Britain’s proud tradition as a country that stands up for animal welfare”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), made it clear that legislation that makes it a criminal offence to mistreat animals is not being altered. The spokesperson added: “No changes are being made to farm animal welfare legislation or the strict enforcement and penalties that apply.

“Instead, the British Poultry Council has produced new non-statutory guidance on how to comply with the legislation. The industry-led guidance can also be used as evidence in court to prove criminal liability and will ensure farmers have the most up-to-date and practical information.”

The RSPCA said: “We are concerned that this change to guidance could impact on the legal weighting these documents have in providing magistrates with legal guidance when considering negligence during animal welfare prosecutions.

“We also have concerns that the new guidance documents may not contain the same level of welfare information as the existing codes and may only serve to help ensure animal keepers are compliant with minimum legal requirements.”

Kerry McCarthy, the shadow environment, added: “Abandoning codes of practice for farm animal welfare is not in the best interests of the animals and will not produce higher quality food.

“In the wake of food scandals from horsemeat to campylobacter, scrapping government standards risks undermining public confidence in the food we buy.”

Article taken from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/animal-welfare-guidance-to-be-scrapped-by-conservative-ministers-a6953796.html

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Dog walkers warned of ‘devastating’ impact of livestock worrying

Sheep and lambThe campaign coincides with lambing season when sheep are at greatest risk of attack

Police Scotland has launched a campaign to raise awareness among dog owners of the “devastating” effects of livestock worrying.

The three-month campaign coincides with the spring lambing period when sheep are at greatest risk from dog attacks.

Last month, a farmer shot two dogs that escaped from a yard in Clackmannanshire and attacked his sheep, which were later destroyed.

The campaign aims to ensure that owners keep their dogs under close control.

Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, which includes Police Scotland, the National Farmers Union of Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates, are behind the campaign.

‘Significant damage’

Insp Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland rural crime co-ordinator, said: “Livestock worrying can occur when a dog attacks, chases or, in the case of sheep, is at large in a field where livestock is kept.

“The devastating effects of a dog attack are evident and cannot be overstated but significant damage can also be caused by a dog simply being present in a field.

“Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs or lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and in some cases malnutrition.”

Insp Donaldson said the campaign would encourage farmers and landowners to put up signs on gateways and paths alerting dog walkers to the presence of sheep in their fields.

She said: “The advice to anyone walking and exercising their dogs in the countryside is to ensure that they are under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock is grazing.

“The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says that dogs shouldn’t be taken into fields where there are lambs or other young farm animals.”

‘Natural instinct’

Theresa Kewell, from Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “We may not think our family pet is capable of causing injury.

“But it is a dog’s natural instinct to chase, so think ahead when you’re out for your walk, about what might tempt your dog to run off, and ensure you keep them under proper control”.

Six sheep were badly injured in the dog attack near Kennet village in Clackmannanshire last month.

A Forth Valley Police spokesperson said the farmer was legally allowed to shoot the dogs in order to stop them attacking his livestock.

A 54-year-old man was reported to the procurator fiscal following the incident.

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-35695843

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One month left to chip your dog

From 06 April it will be compulsory for owners to ensure their dog is microchipped.

Every year over 102,000 dogs are picked up from our streets having strayed or been stolen, but thanks to new microchipping laws coming into effect on 6 April they’ll soon stand a much greater chance of being returned home safe and sound to their owners.

Already 83% of responsible dog owners have had their four-legged friend painlessly implanted with a microchip and their details updated on a national database. This means should one of our 8.5 million dogs take itself for ‘walkies’ we can quickly find out where they’ve come from and reunite them with their family.

The new rules which come into force in England next month will not only protect the welfare of dogs and promote responsible ownership, but also make it easier to track down the owners of dogs that carry out attacks on people. We also expect local authorities and charities, which would otherwise feed, kennel and home dogs, to make £33million in annual savings were these dogs microchipped and returned to owners.

Commenting on the new law Animal Welfare Minister George Eustice said:

We are a nation of dog lovers and we want to make sure they stay safe. Microchipping our dogs will not only reunite people with their lost or stolen pets, but also help to tackle the growing problem of strays roaming the streets and relieve the burden placed on animal charities and local authorities.

Microchipping is vital for good dog welfare and a simple solution for responsible pet owners to provide peace of mind and ensure your much-loved dog can be traced.

Providing support for compulsory microchipping, Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director added:

Dogs Trust welcomes the new legalisation coming into effect on 6 April as we have long campaigned to make microchipping compulsory. Losing a dog is an extremely upsetting time for both dog and dog owner and microchipping increases the likelihood that a dog will be reunited with their owner in the event they are lost, making it an essential part of animal welfare law in England. It is vital that the microchip details are kept up to date.

In 2015, 47,596 unclaimed and unwanted dogs were left in council kennels across the UK as these dogs could not be reunited with their owners. Stray dogs that find themselves at Dogs Trust are the lucky ones, as we will care for a dog for its entire life if needed. In 2015 alone Dogs Trust has microchipped over 185,000 dogs for free across our network of Rehoming Centres and we’re still working tirelessly to ensure even more dogs are given these small but essential pieces of technology before April. Currently, at Dogs Trust there are 1,546 stray, unwanted and abandoned dogs looking for their forever home.

The soon-to-be-compulsory procedure is inexpensive and ranges from £10-£30, with many charities and animal shelters offering to carry it out for free.

Additional information:

After 6 April 2016, owners of dogs found by the police or local authorities not to have a microchip will have the benefits explained to them and be given a short period to comply with the microchipping law. If they do not, they could face a fine of up to £500.

Information on how to get your dog microchipped for free is available. You can also visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Chipmydog

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/one-month-left-to-chip-your-dog

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Wildlife crime penalties to rise sharply

Scotland is to introduce some of the toughest penalties in Europe for crimes against wildlife, but Westminster’s control of gun law is preventing the Scottish Government going further.

Golden eagle chicks have been victims of wildlife crimes

A review group chaired by Professor Mark Poustie of Strathclyde University made numerous recommendations for increased fines and penalties for wildlife crime and the Scottish Government has accepted nearly all of them.

The major recommendation that cannot be proceeded with at present is the proposal to withdraw firearms or shotgun certificates, because that legislation is reserved to Westminster.

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod nevertheless accepted most of the recommendations from the review group and the Government will now aim to introduce tough new maximum penalties for those who commit crimes against wildlife.

Subject to the necessary legislative steps this could mean fines of up to £40,000 and 12 months imprisonment for certain offences.

The Scottish Government will also take forward a number of other recommendations including greater use of alternative penalties such as forfeiture of equipment used in offences.

There will be greater use of impact statements and there will also be a look into the creation of new sentencing guidelines.

Dr McLeod said: “Wildlife crime has no place in modern Scotland, this is why I have decided to increase the maximum available penalties to bring wildlife offences into line with other environmental crimes.

“It is important we have appropriate penalties that deter criminality but also reflect the impact these crimes can have on our environment and Scotland’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination.”

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, welcomed the announcement saying: “Scotland has some of the strongest wildlife legislation in the UK but, ultimately, we need wildlife crime to be seen as completely unacceptable so that gamekeepers, landowners and countryside bodies do not tolerate it.”

Article taken from: http://www.thenational.scot/news/wildlife-crime-penalties-to-rise-sharply.14199