Humane Society International (HSI) are asking supporters to join them in their fight against fur. The charity has been invited to share their vision for a Fur Free Britain at a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on 7th February 2017.
HSI says, “The UK currently imports tens of millions of pounds of cruel animal fur each year, condemning animals to short, miserable lives in small wire cages on vast, intensive farms — all in the name of fashion. Imports appear to have risen in recent years, so we need to show MPs that there is public support for an outright ban on the animal fur trade into the UK.
We’ll be presenting our vision for a Fur-Free Britain at a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on 7th February and we need as many MPs to attend as possible, to help urge the government to take decisive action. Please ask your MP to attend this important meeting to support our call for a #FurFreeBritain!”
Sadly, rabbits are one of the most neglected of pets. Animal rescue centres in the UK are overflowing with unwanted pet rabbits that are desperate for a loving home. Despite this, Glen Bruce, who already runs a pet breeding business, has applied for planning permission for a new pet rabbit breeding facility in Lincolnshire.
Selling rabbits and other small animals in pet shops encourages impulse buying, which is dangerous because many people are ignorant to a rabbit’s needs. For example, many don’t realise that a rabbit needs the company of another rabbit in order to be happy. While a good rescue centre would do a home visit to see if the person’s home is suitable to adopt an animal, breeding facilities rarely take this precautionary step.
“Hundreds of thousands of rabbits face an unhappy, lonely existence in cramped accommodation, whilst being fed an inappropriate diet and suffering from a range of painful diseases.” PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon Sean Wensley.
Pet owners give 67,000 rabbits to rescue centres every year in the UK, and many more abandon these animals into the wild, leading to almost certain death. Petition author Christine says, “I was a Rehoming Co-ordinator for a local animal rescue centre so I know that rescues are inundated with unwanted rabbits – the county does not need a pet breeding facility to make matters worse.”
A HSE-run centre for people with disabilities has caused outrage by involving vulnerable service users in the controversial sport of hare coursing.
The controversial activity has been facilitated by Ballina Training Centre, which provides therapeutic programmes and services for people with intellectual disabilities in Co Mayo.
It has emerged that staff and service users have been involved in training greyhounds for hare coursing and have even attended coursing events.
The HSE, which funds and runs Ballina Training Centre, has confirmed that the service has been supporting the activity for clients but added that this support did not constitute an endorsement or approval of hare coursing.
Minister for Health Simon Harris will face questions about the matter in the Dáil this week from Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who said that she was “appalled” that public resources were being used to expose vulnerable individuals to the controversial activity.
She added: “The coursing events they attended are the very places where independent documentary evidence of cruelty has been collected. It is absolutely outrageous.”
A recent issue of an internal publication called Mayo Mental Health News contained an article outlining the involvement of staff and service users of Ballina Training Centre in hare coursing.
The article stated that two greyhounds had been purchased and were being trained for coursing by staff and service users. It also referred to hare coursing as “the interesting new pastime offered by the Centre” and provided details of two “outings” to coursing meetings last year in Liscannor, Co Clare and Loughrea, Co Galway.
A spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called for the project to cease immediately, adding: “The idea of bringing vulnerable people to hare-coursing meetings to watch hares being used as live bait for greyhounds is outrageous. It is a totally inappropriate project for the HSE to be involved in.”
The HSE initially denied that the activity was being facilitated at the Centre and claimed that it “does not and has never run a hare coursing activity for its service users”.
However, when evidence of the Centre’s involvement in the activity was presented, a HSE spokesperson confirmed the described activity was supported by the service.
The spokesman said: “The activities described were identified and developed solely by service users…The nature of such community-based activities are the prerogative of the individual(s) and is supported by the service only in the context of fostering recovery and promoting mental health.
“The support of clients by staff in their wellbeing and recovery does not constitute an endorsement or approval of any such activity.”
A puppy who swallowed an 8in (20cm) kitchen knife is recovering after undergoing life-saving surgery.
Twelve-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier Macie was rushed to the emergency vet after she began choking.
Her owner thought she had eaten a toy but X-rays revealed a knife, with the handle lodged in her intestines and the tip of the blade in her gullet.
The PSDA vet who has been caring for Macie since her operation said she was “extremely lucky to survive”.
Owner Irene Paisley, 46, from Glasgow, had lost her previous Staffie to cancer just two months earlier and feared the worst for puppy Macie.
She said: “Macie was making a squeaking sound – I thought she’d swallowed part of a toy. Then she was sick, but there was no sign of a toy, and she started choking.
“I was terrified. Poor Macie was still choking and, by the time we arrived at the vet’s, there was blood coming out of her nose. The loss of our previous dog was still very raw and the thought of losing Macie was devastating.”
The puppy underwent immediate emergency surgery at an out-of-hours vet service in Glasgow to remove the knife while Ms Paisley, her partner and four children waited at home for news.
PDSA vet Emily Ronald, said: “I’ve never seen an X-ray like Macie’s. She was extremely lucky to survive. Her saving grace was that she swallowed the handle-end first – the blade-end would undoubtedly have pierced her organs, likely causing fatal injuries.
“The morning after surgery, she was bouncing all over the place as if nothing had happened. Macie has been back for frequent check-ups over the past two weeks and we’re pleased she’s recovering and healing well.”
‘I couldn’t believe it’
Ms Paisley added: “I couldn’t believe it when they said Macie had swallowed a knife. I have no idea where she got hold of it – she could have pinched it out of the dishwasher, but no-one saw what happened. None of us could sleep that night as we knew Macie might not survive.”
She added: “Although she’s only young, Macie is already a big part of the family. She brings us so much joy and happiness, and means the world to the children. Without PDSA, she wouldn’t have received her life-saving treatment and wouldn’t be here today.”
PDSA provides free veterinary care to sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership.
Over the years, the charity’s vets have removed items including tent pegs, golf balls, radio aerials and rubber ducks during surgery on pets.
Nearly 5,000 calls about organised dog fighting in England and Wales have been made to the RSPCA since 2006, according to figures released to the BBC.
The charity said there had been a total of 137 convictions in the same period.
The maximum sentence for offenders is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine, but campaigners want it to be raised to up to three years.
Brian Wheelhouse, who runs a dog rescue centre, said offenders only cared about financial gain and not about the dog.
Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Evidence from the UK and abroad points to the activity being a ‘gateway’ crime to serious and organised offences, such as drug and gun crime.
“In the United States dog fighting is recognised as a Grade A felony by the FBI.”
France applies a sentence of up to two years, and Germany and the Czech Republic apply a sentence of up to three years.
Mike Butcher, chief inspector of the RSCPA’s special operations unit, said: “The idea of a six-month sentence is a joke. The idea that you only serve half of what you get is even more of a joke.
“It’s no deterrent at all.”
The RSPCA said the highest number of calls it had received had been in Greater London (924), followed by the West Midlands (469), West Yorkshire (305) and Greater Manchester (238).
Rural counties are also affected, including the areas of Kent, Essex and Lancashire.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said there were “strict laws in place” to deal with people who were not properly looking after animals.
A spokesman said: “Anyone who is cruel to an animal or does not provide for its welfare needs may be banned from owning animals, given an unlimited fine or sent to prison.”
Campaigners including the League Against Cruel Sports, the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, along with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have all called for tougher sentencing as a deterrent.
Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, the NPCC’s lead for dangerous dogs, said “this kind of animal abuse” caused “untold distress and harm to the animals involved”.
Brian Wheelhouse, of Whitehall Dog Rescue, Wakefield
We had a call from the dog compound. There was concern because this dog had obviously been used for dog fighting, or as dog bait, with the injuries it had sustained.
A dog that attacks another dog will go for the jugular vein – for the neck – so Benji has got injuries all around his neck, [and] around his face.
Dog fighting is done by individuals that are fighting them for financial gain.
They’re not bothered what happens to the dog at the end of the day as long as it wins.
They’re not bothered about the injuries because they’re not going to be taking it to the vets and having it treated.
They’ll leave it to heal up by itself. If the dog dies then so be it.
To inflict injuries and do horrible things on these poor creatures just beggar’s belief.
Kittens as bait
Last year, two kittens were found in Bradford with their fur coloured using marker pens.
It is thought they were to have been used as bait in a dog fight, where people would have bet on which one would have died first.
Katie Lloyd, Bradford Cat Watch Rescue
They came in through a police officer who’d been to a property and seized them.
We’d never seen anything quite like it before – one was coloured blue with a marker pen, and one was green.
Thankfully nothing terrible had happened before they came to us.
We believe that they may have been coloured in to be used for dog fighting.
It was horrendous and we were thinking those cats were probably minutes away from being ripped to shreds by dogs, and they were tiny.
We’re aware of other incidents where cats have been used as bait for dog fighting.
Rising temperatures and crop farming mean birds are disappearing from parts of England, says study, while butterflies and dragonflies are faring better
Climate change has already led to the vanishing of some bird species in parts of England, where intensively farmed land gives them no room to adapt to warming temperatures. The revelation, in a new scientific study, contradicts previous suggestions that birds are tracking global warming by shifting their ranges.
The research found that birds that prefer cooler climes, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in south-east England and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common.
“Birds are facing a double-edged sword from climate change and declines in habitat quality,” said Tom Oliver, at the University of Reading, who led the new study. “In England, birds really look like they are struggling to cope with climate change. They are already being hit with long-term reductions in habitat quality and, for the cold-associated birds, those losses are being further exacerbated by climate change.”
“Climate change is with us, here and now, and its effects on wildlife are increasingly well documented,” said Mike Morecroft, principal climate change specialist at Natural England, and part of the research team.
Simon Gillings, at the British Trust for Ornithology, and another member of the research team, said: “Intensive [land] management is making it harder for cold-associated birds to find cool corners of sites, or to disperse away from warming regions.”
But Oliver noted that showing the impact of climate change on wildlife is affected by the availability of good habitats means action can be taken: “We are not completely at the mercy of climate change.” Creating larger natural areas in strategic places will help species cope with a changing climate, the scientists said.
The study, published in Global Change Biology, analysed both bird and butterfly data from more than 600 sites monitored between 1964 and 2009. It found butterflies were adapting much better to climate change than birds, although cold-associated butterfly species also suffered if the area around the site was poor in natural habitat.
But while many of the butterfly species that enjoy warmer weather were thriving, birds associated with warmer temperatures were not, due to lost or degraded habitat.
Oliver said butterflies were faring better as they require much smaller areas of natural land, which are more likely to be available. Good habitat means more suitable food plants and more microclimates in which species can thrive in good years and survive in poor ones.
The ringlet butterfly, for example, suffers badly in drought years. But they can hang on if there are patches of broadleaf woodland available, as these resist droughts and keep soils more moist than treeless landscapes.
Butterflies can also produce many generations in a single year when conditions are favourable, whereas birds reproduce more slowly. The small copper butterfly can have up to five generations a year, Oliver said.
Like butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies are generally adapting well to climate change and warming has brought 11 new species to Britain since 1995, according to a new report from the British Dragonfly Society. Newcomers include the stunning large white-faced darter and Genevieve Dalley, at the BDS, said: “These unprecedented events currently happening in the dragonfly world are exciting but also act as a warning: the natural world is changing.”
But global warming is also threatening the northern damselfly, restricted to a few small lochs in Scotland, and the black darter, which is becoming less common in the south of Britain.
The scientists conducting the bird and butterfly research determined the temperature favoured by each species by looking at the average warmth of their ranges across Europe, with those preferring heat found mostly in southern Europe and vice versa.
“That report called for a step change in nature conservation,” said Oliver. “We are still waiting for that step change and until we see it we can’t really expect the fortunes of our wildlife to change.”
Richard Bradbury at the RSPB and not involved in the new research said: “Making use of the tremendously rich wildlife data collected by dedicated UK volunteer observers, this study provides further compelling evidence that climate change is already affecting the UK’s species.”
A major report in 2015 found that one in six of the world’s species faces extinction due to climate change unless action is taken to cut carbon emissions rapidly.