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Petition: Ask your MP to make Britain fur-free

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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!”

To sign the petition and make your voice heard today, visit https://action.hsi.org/ea-action/action?ea

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‘Barbaric’ dog meat trade condemned by MPs

The government is to write to British embassies in countries where dog meat is consumed urging them to suggest ways to improve animal welfare in the trade.

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Foreign Office Minister James Duddridge made the commitment in a Commons debate as MPs described the industry as “inhumane” and “disgusting”.

Labour MP Rob Flello said other countries’ traditions could not be a “smokescreen” for “barbaric” practices.
He called for action to stop an annual dog meat festival in south-west China.

The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin in Guangxi province sparked huge protests in June, when 10,000 dogs were said to have been slaughtered. However, residents and vendors in Yulin said the animals were killed in a humane way.

Speaking during a backbench business debate in the Commons, Mr Flello said: “I don’t believe that it is generally the role of this House to tell societies abroad what they should and shouldn’t do based on Western sensibilities.

“But we cannot allow for tradition to be used as a smokescreen for practices that are barbaric, cruel, inhumane, disgusting – pick any word you can possibly pick and it will not come close to what we are discussing here today.”

Dogs help humans “in many, many ways,” he said: “But what dogs are not for is for the barbaric, disgusting, cruel, vicious, evil of putting them on somebody’s plate in the most horrible ways that this House in its worst nightmares could ever imagine.”

Conservative MP Simon Hoare expressed sympathy for Mr Flello’s motion but but warned against telling other countries what to do.

“If we go down a cultural imperialist route, as desirable as the outcome might be, I am tempted to think that there would be a very fierce backlash against that,” he added.

Promising to write to all ambassadors in the area to review what they are doing about the trade, Mr Duddridge said the government was committed to improving animal welfare around the world, including working with the Chinese administration, and was able “to have these difficult discussions across cultural divides”.

He added: “We will continue to raise these issues in the most effective way possible – which isn’t always megaphone diplomacy but sometimes speaking louder on these important issues is needed and where it is needed, we are prepared to speak.”

Mr Flello’s motion was agreed by the MPs but is not binding on the government.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34740696

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MPs to debate the dog meat trade this Thursday

On Thursday 5 November MPs will take part in a debate on the dog meat trade. This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following a bid from Robert Flello MP, photo (8)Labour MP for Edmonton.

This potentially ground-breaking debate is as a result of the meeting held at the House of Commons on the 28th of January where an unprecedented 138 MPs signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in support for action to be taken to tackle this trade.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition today, calling on the UK Parliament to take vital steps to tackle this horrendous issue.

Please also take a minute to contact your local MP urging them to attend this debate. It’s time we step up now as a country and do everything we can to help the thousands of dogs – many previously loving pets – who are subjected to this barbaric trade every single day.

Please write to your MP now, urging them to attend the forthcoming debate and to support the motion calling for the UK Government to request the respective governments in Asia to end the trade.

Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/uk-prime-minister-support-the-uk-parliament-s-call-to-end-the-dog-meat-trade

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Around the manifestos

With just two weeks to go, OneKind takes a look at the General Election manifestos to see what commitments are being made for animals.

The good news is that most parties do make some mention of animal welfare, and some already have longstanding policy commitments.  But there are, it seems, many different views of what animal welfare really means …

The parties within the devolved administrations – such as the Scottish Greens, Scottish Labour and  Scottish Liberal Democrats make little reference to animal welfare in their Westminster manifestos.  This is probably because these parties deal with animal welfare at the devolved level – and so for fairness we have removed them from this analysis.  We do however include the independent parties SNP and Plaid Cymru who would otherwise not be represented.

The Labour Party was first into the race in February with a dedicated Animal Welfare Manifesto. Labour pledged to review the rules on breeding and selling dogs and cats, ban wild animals in circuses, end the badger cull, defend the Hunting Act, reduce animal cruelty on shooting estates and – like several other parties – lead the fight against global animal cruelty.

Labour intends to review the practice of snaring, although it stops short of pledging a ban. Regarding shooting estates, a Labour government would “undertake an independent review” on how to end the illegal persecution of birds of prey, such as the hen harrier; prevent non-target animals getting trapped in snares; and ensure the humane treatment of game birds.

Labour says it would lead international efforts to combat illegal wildlife crime and would push to end all commercial whaling, and prevent the poaching and near extinction of endangered species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers.

The main Labour Manifesto reprises the animal welfare pledges:

“We will build on our strong record on animal welfare – starting with an end to the Government’s ineffective and cruel badger cull. We will improve the protection of dogs and cats, ban wild animals in circuses, defend the hunting ban and deal with wildlife crime associated with shooting.”

The Conservative Party manifesto sends out a mixed message on welfare.  There are a number of detailed and specific commitments, such as a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, but also a commitment to foxhunting and to upholding the use of non-stun slaughter in UK slaughterhouses.

“The quality of the food on your plate, and the economic security of our farmers, depend on us upholding the highest standards of animal welfare. We will push for high animal welfare standards to be incorporated into international trade agreements and into reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.”

“We will ban wild animals in circuses and press for all EU member states to ensure that animals are only sent to slaughterhouses that meet high welfare standards. We 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 where appropriate.”

On slaughter: “We want people to integrate fully into British society, but that does not mean they should have to give up the things they hold dear in their religion. So while we will always make sure the Food Standards Agency properly regulates the slaughter of livestock and poultry, we will protect methods of religious slaughter, such as shechita and halal.”

The Conservatives also declare their commitment to tackling the illegal international wildlife trade and ending the poaching that kills thousands of rhinos, elephants and tigers each year. In addition:

“We will oppose any resumption of commercial whaling, and seek further measures at the EU and internationally to end shark-finning. We will promote effective worldwide measures for tuna conservation, press for a total ban on ivory sales, and support the Indian Government in its efforts to protect the Asian elephant.

“We will press for full ‘endangered species’ status for polar bears and a ban on the international trade in polar bear skins, as well as for greater attention to be paid to the impact of climate change on wildlife and habitats in Polar Regions in the Arctic Council and other international fora.

Domestically, however:

“We will protect hunting, shooting and fishing, for all the benefits to individuals, the environment and the rural economy that these activities bring. A Conservative Government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.

By contrast, the Green Party would maintain the ban on hunting and add a ban on snaring.

The Greens have by far the most comprehensive section on animal protection – too long to reproduce here – covering many of the policy issues of concern to OneKind.  For example, there are detailed measures to mitigate the problems of industrial farming:

“Sustainable farming means animals freed from cages and returned to the land. We will end factory farming and enforce strict animal welfare standards.

“One particularly constructive proposal is for the creation of a new Commission on Animal Protection, which would cover animal protection issues in all the areas specifically addressed below.

There is a commitment to fight wildlife crime and a proposal to ban the import of exotic pets and the keeping of primates as household pets. The Green Party has been strongly opposed to the badger cull from the outset, saying that all the evidence showed it would be both inhumane and ineffective at tackling bovine tuberculosis.

Greens want to see an end to all animal experimentation and would ensure that research funding is directed away from failing animal disease models and towards modern human biology-based techniques.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto contains a section entitled “Protecting nature”, which says:

“Liberal Democrats believe in the highest standards of animal welfare. We will review the rules surrounding the sale of pets to ensure they promote responsible breeding and sales and minimise the use of animals in scientific experimentation, including by funding research into alternatives. We remain committed to the three Rs of humane animal research: Replace, Reduce, Refine.”

On farming, the Liberal Democrats pledge to continue to improve standards of animal welfare, and to review the use of cages, crates and routine preventative antibiotics. They also say they would introduce effective, science-led ways of controlling bovine TB and only support extending the existing cull pilots if they are shown to be effective, humane and safe.

The SNP manifesto mentions issues that are current in the Scottish Parliament and states that it will support measures to improve welfare with a global focus.  It does not say what the party’s position would be on domestic issues affecting England, such as wild animals in circuses or a potential repeal of the Hunting Act.

In a section entitled Species Protection, the manifesto says:

“While responsibility for animal welfare is devolved to the Scottish Parliament –and the SNP in government is already working to improve the conditions of kept animals, including consultations on responsible dog ownership and wild animals in travelling circuses, and giving consideration to further protection at slaughter, the registration or licensing of horse establishments and a review of tail docking in working dogs – at Westminster we will support further animal welfare measures with a global focus. This includes action to end the illegal ivory trade and protect species such as polar bears and bluefin tuna.

In its farming manifesto Plaid Cymru also seeks clear and unambiguous food labelling. The main Plaid manifesto contains little on animal welfare, presumably because, as in Scotland, this is a devolved issue.  Plaid does make an EU level commitment – “We support the introduction of a European-level Animal Welfare Commissioner and adoption at all government levels of the new and comprehensive Animal Welfare law to end animal cruelty.”

UKIP supports country of origin food labelling, to include  information about whether an animal was stunned before slaughter.  It also pledges to increase penalties for animal cruelty, tightly regulate animal testing and keep the ban on animal testing for cosmetics, challenge companies using animals for testing drugs or other medical treatments on the necessity for this form of testing, ban the export of live animals for slaughter, insist on formal non-stun training and certification for all religious slaughtermen and enforce the highest standards, install CCTV in every abattoir and deal severely with any contraventions and to end the slaughter of dolphins by banning pair trawler fishing for bass.

One more thing – OneKind has its own animal welfare manifesto which you can read here.  And please take the OneKind election action and ask your candidates to sign our animal welfare pledge.

We think every candidate needs to be told that animal welfare is a priority for voters. Loud and clear.

Article taken from: http://www.onekind.org/live_onekind/blog_article/around_the_manifestos

Related articles: https://catdraggedin.co.uk/tag/general-election-2015/

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Brian May and Bill Oddie back ‘Votes for Animals’

Celebrities and campaigners have launched a “Votes for Animals” initiative to highlight the importance of animal welfare issues in the General Election.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) cub, 7 weeks old

Queen guitarist Brian May, actor Peter Egan and wildlife expert Bill Oddie are among those launching the campaign to inform the public on where their local candidate stands on animal welfare, and to urge people to take it into consideration when voting.

A day of action today will see a Suffragette-themed march on Parliament and speeches from the celebrity backers, as well as a political hustings at ethical cosmetic company Lush’s new flagship store in Oxford Street, London, with participants from major parties.

The campaign is spearheaded by Lush and backed by animal protection organisations League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid and May’s Common Decency organisation.

League Against Cruel Sports chief executive Joe Duckworth said: “Animal lovers who want a new government that’s committed to animal welfare should know where their local candidates stand on this issue when they cast their vote at the General Election. Our ‘Votes for Animals’ campaign and website will help the general public find out more so they can make an informed choice.”

Head of campaigns at Animal Aid Kate Fowler said: “Not all politicians are the same, and party policies on animal welfare are particularly diverse. To animals in the wild, on farms, in laboratories and in our homes, it makes a very real difference which party comes to power. We are urging animal-lovers to find out more, and vote for animals on May 7.”

Article taken from: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/entertainment/brian-may-and-bill-oddie-back-votes-for-animals-673058.html

Related articles: http://www.league.org.uk/news-and-opinion/press-releases/2015/apr-15/celebrities-and-campaigners-march-on-parliament-for-animal-welfare-general-election-drive

https://catdraggedin.co.uk/2015/04/23/what-every-animal-lover-needs-to-know-about-the-2015-general-election-manifestos/

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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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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