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Petition: Ask Defra for independently-monitored CCTV in all slaughterhouses

Animal Aid filmed covertly at the Malik Food Group slaughterhouse near Burnley in Lancashire. This is the 12th slaughterhouse that Animal Aid has filmed, and the 11th found to be breaking animal welfare laws.

What they found there is absolutely shocking.

  • Malik is a non-stun slaughterhouse which must by law keep knives surgically sharp. But knives were so blunt that sheep had their throats hacked at multiple times.
  • Others were moved before they had been given time to lose consciousness – another breach of welfare laws.
  • On three occasions, a worker picked up sheep by their fleeces and threw them, while many other animals endured rough handling. Some were taunted whilst being abused.
  • Of deep concern is that a worker warned the others when the Food Standards Agency (FSA) vet was approaching.

The FSA is thought to have taken steps to remove one man’s slaughter licence and launched an investigation. It has confirmed that there are ‘serious non-compliances with animal welfare legislation’ and we expect criminal proceedings to follow. One of the company’s directors already has a conviction for animal cruelty.

Please send a message to Defra Minister George Eustice to tell him we urgently need independently-monitored CCTV in all slaughterhouses. If you can personalise the message, it will have a greater impact.

To send this important message, click here: http://www.e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1825&ea.campaign.id=67792

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ZSL’s new research shows that vaccination has no negative effects

Statement from ZSL, 9th December 2016:

Brian May’s Save Me Trust calls for an evaluation of the role of badger vaccination, alongside a proper review of the effectiveness, if any, of badger culls on bovine TB in cattle.

It also draws attention to the fact that it is no longer possible to believe that badgers are the main cause of the spread of the disease, or even a significant component of its transmission. The principal mechanism of reinfection now being confirmed to be in undetected, infectious cattle in the herds themselves.

In the latest research revealed today on Bovine TB management, science has once again put an end to speculation. As ZSL’s new paper published today – ‘Ranging behaviour of badgers Meles meles vaccinated with Bacillus Calmette Guerin’.

Two years ago, a cattle vet in Devon speculated that vaccinating badgers might disrupt their behaviour, thus spreading TB to new areas. His ideas were based on no evidence at all; nevertheless they were repeated in the media as though they were facts, undermining support for badger vaccination.

Research published today by the Zoological Society of London confirms that vaccination, in fact, has no detectable effect on badger behaviour. In the ZSL experiment, badgers were trapped, vaccinated and released, and were subsequently tracked with GPS collars. It was found that they travelled no further than those which had not been vaccinated.

This is encouraging news for badgers and cattle alike. ZSL’s research confirms that vaccination does not have the same potential to increase the incidence of TB in cattle as culling.  Culling DOES disrupt badger behaviour and, while it’s now also clear that badgers are at most a very small part of the re-infection of cattle herds, scientists believe that the Government’s present policy of culling badgers is likely to make matters worse.

ZSL’s new research shows that vaccination has no negative effects. Undisrupted, ‘normal’ badger behaviour sees badgers in tightly defined communities, which give the best opportunity for vaccination to be effective. Since vaccination is also cheaper and more publicly acceptable, the choice between vaccination and culling should be straightforward.

Bovine TB is a major problem for British cattle farmers, so TB control efforts must be based on the best available evidence. Hopefully, this new research will encourage proper studies of the role that vaccination could play in TB control.

However, to put this in perspective, recent evidence confirms the fact that transmission of TB has very little to do with badgers. At least 96 per cent of re-infection is due to undetected carriers of the bTB Micobacterium in the herd. Current Government policy forces farmers to rely on the infamous skin test to detect and remove infected cows, a course of action which is demonstrably failing. Only an enhanced testing regime can give hope to farmers who are, at present, locked in a hopeless situation.

We must review all the new available science and remove this expensive, ill fated and ineffective policy. It doesn’t support the science, the badgers, the cattle or the farmers.

Ranging behaviour of badgers Meles meles vaccinated with Bacillus Calmette Guerin: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1527401/

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Tougher dog breeding licence controls to protect puppies

Tougher dog breeding licensing to protect the welfare of puppies from back street breeders will be introduced under proposals announced today.

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A consultation is seeking to strengthen the regulations around dog breeding and pet sales to make it easier to identify and take action against irresponsible breeders who pay little regard to the health and welfare of the puppies they raise. This is a particular problem amongst smaller breeding establishments – known as ‘backstreet breeders’ – which supply thousands of dogs to UK families each year.

Animal Welfare Minister George Eustice said, “We are a nation of dog lovers but it is crucial that puppies are cared for properly and socialised in the first three months if they are to enjoy healthy and happy lives.

We are aiming to reform the licensing regime we have so that smaller puppy breeding establishments must abide by the same regulations and licensing rules as bigger breeders so that the worst offenders can be dealt with more quickly.

We are also reviewing other animal related licensed activities such as pet sales to address problems associated with the growing trend for internet sales that can contribute to impulse buying.”

The consultation will tighten up the licensing regulations for breeders by clarifying existing rules requiring any breeding businesses to have a licence. The proposals will also increase the number of smaller backstreet breeders – who may not consider themselves a business – that will require a licence by making it a requirement for anyone producing three or more litters of puppies in a year.

The consultation also seeks to formalise the adoption of existing model conditions on good breeding health and welfare by making it a requirement of breeders to comply with the conditions and for local authorities to use them.

Claire Horton, CEO of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and non-executive Director of AHWBE, said: “Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has long recognised the cruel problem of backstreet breeding in Britain. The government’s proposals are extremely encouraging, having listened to the important calls we have made in our nationwide campaign to end this unacceptable practice.

Reducing the number of litters a breeder can produce in a year, without a licence, will ensure that more breeders will be brought under the scope of regulation, which we believe will protect the lives and welfare of more of the vulnerable dogs who really need it. It will also provide greater protection for buyers – those looking to take on a dog deserve to be confident that their puppy has been given the best start in life, and bred by a responsible, properly-regulated breeder.”

Local authorities will also be able to better target their enforcement activity by directing less resource at responsible businesses, for example those who are controlled by the Kennel Club’s UKAS-accredited Assured Breeders’ Scheme – which has 6,000 members. This will free up resources to follow-up on reports of poor welfare at backstreet breeding establishments.

For the first time, the consultation will also clarify that online retailers selling puppies should be treated in the same way as high street pet shops by local authorities – meaning they must abide by the same licensing and welfare regulations.

Through the Pet Advisory Action Group (PAAG) – Defra and welfare charities have worked with six major online advertising sites to remove over 130,000 inappropriate adverts of pets where there were concerns about the welfare and background of the animal.

PAAG is now looking at broadening this successful approach to other sites, and to educate prospective buyers to what they should be looking out for if they are looking for a pet online, such as if can they visit and see the dog with its mother before they buy and check that the seller is a properly licensed breeder.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tougher-dog-breeding-licence-controls-to-protect-puppies

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Freedom of Information Request Reveals True Cost of Badger Cull – Nearly £7,000 per badger killed

DEFRA has finally been forced to reveal the true cost of their disastrous badger cull policy in a Freedom of Information request brought by the Badger Trust. The final bill for the taxpayer (including policing costs) is just under £16.8 million, which works out at £6,775 per badger killed.

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The DEFRA figures show:
2012 badger cull postponement costs – £2,500,000
2013 badger cull cost – £9,818,000
2014 badger cull cost – £4,459,000
Total costs – £16,777,000

The Badger Trust has pursued the government relentlessly over the actual costs of the badger cull policy but DEFRA fought hard not to reveal them. So in November 2014, the Trust went public with its own estimate of £6,100 per badger for the first two years of the culls, a figure derided as ‘inaccurate and alarmist’ by pro-cull politicians and the farming lobby, who also accused the Trust of inflating the costs to ‘fuel public opposition’ to the policy.

Reacting to the latest figures released by DEFRA, Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said, “Despite the best efforts of the government and the farming lobby to discredit us, our cost estimates were, if anything, too low.

“Not only is the badger cull a disastrous failure on scientific and animal welfare grounds, it is also becoming an unacceptable burden on the taxpayer. When the policy was developed in 2011 the government claimed it would be a farmer led initiative, paid for by farmers. In reality it’s the taxpayer who is footing the bill and these costs will continue to rise rapidly as the policy is extended into Dorset, and possibly other counties in the future.

“If, as the former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson stated in 2013, the badger cull is rolled out to over 40 areas of England the costs to the tax payer could easily exceed half a billion pounds.”

Badger Trust Chairman Peter Martin added, “It’s time the government stopped pandering to the irrational sentiments of the farming lobby by playing the badger blame game. We live in a world of science and facts, and DEFRA’s own data show that even in TB hotspot areas 85% of badgers will not even have the disease and 98% are no risk whatsoever to cattle. Killing badgers that don’t have TB cannot possibly help the situation for farmers or for cows. This indiscriminate slaughter is not only irrational but hugely wasteful of public money at a time when key services are being axed, including 40% cuts at DEFRA.

“The Welsh Government’s approach has been far more successful by focusing on improved testing and movement controls in cattle. New incidents of bTB in Wales are down 28% with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of bTB, without culling any badgers.

“The public has a right to be outraged not only by the appalling waste of badgers’ lives but also the disgraceful squandering of tens of millions of pounds on a policy that will have no measureable impact on reducing bovine TB. If famers are worried about badgers then vaccinating them is not just more effective and humane, it’s also ten times cheaper than culling.”