RSPCA Cymru is excited by the prospect of a “positive few years” for animal welfare, as the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths delivers an update to the National Assembly for Wales on her plans for the sector.
The Cabinet Secretary today (13 November) updated Assembly Members on the Welsh Government’s plans for animal welfare – including on proposals to potentially ban third party puppy and kitten sales, the importance of Wales being a “free-range nation” and CCTV in slaughterhouses.
In her statement she said that “animal welfare remains high on the agenda” and highlighted the importance of partnership, in addition to the Welsh Government’s commitment to raising standards now and following Wales’ upcoming withdrawal from the European Union.
Claire Lawson, RSPCA Cymru assistant director of external relations, said: “There’s a lot for the RSPCA to welcome in today’s statement, which potentially paves the way for a positive few years for animal welfare, and some much-needed, big progress for pets, farm animals and wildlife across the country.”
Statutory status for RSPCA inspectors
The Cabinet Secretary emphasised that discussions are ongoing concerning the potential of giving RSPCA inspectors statutory powers under the Animal Welfare Act – having previously spent time on the road with RSPCA inspector Kia Thomas in February.
Ms Lawson said: “It was fantastic to hear the Cabinet Secretary speak so fondly of her time on the road with an RSPCA inspector. It was brilliant for us to be able to give an insight into our unique work to her; and is something we are always eager to make available to decision-makers in Wales.
“We are exploring, in detail, the role statutory powers for RSPCA inspectors could play in helping us to rescue more animals, and we’re working closely with the Welsh Government to see how this could work in practice; with agencies like the SSPCA – for example – already having some powers in Scotland.”
Third Party Sales
The Cabinet Secretary reiterated the Welsh Government’s commitment to undertaking a consultation into a possible ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens. This will launch in the New Year. This followed an announcement at a recent RSPCA Cymru event, where it was revealed for the first time that such a consultation would be taking place.
Ms Lawson said: “We look forward to taking part in the consultation and working with the Welsh Government to ensure this becomes a reality. By ending third party sales – and in conjunction with Wales’ unique dog breeding laws – Wales can help end the illegal puppy and kitten trade and this cruel multi-million pound business.”
CCTV in Slaughterhouses
During the statement, the Welsh Government spoke supportively of CCTV in abattoirs across Wales; but again stopped short of supporting legislation to deliver this – something the RSPCA wants to happen.
Ms Lawson said: “RSPCA Cymru wholeheartedly supports, and has long championed, the introduction of CCTV in abattoirs in Wales, which we believe should be compulsory across the country.
“It is welcome that the Welsh Government supports the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses – but we’d like to see measures brought forward which make this mandatory.
“Across Wales, there is wide-ranging support for this – with 82 percent of the public in Wales backing the proposal, which would have significant benefits for farm animal welfare in this country.”
Wales as a ‘free range nation’
The Cabinet Secretary also highlighted the importance of Wales becoming a “free range nation for egg production” – with the emphasis on higher welfare produce something the RSPCA is always eager to see prioritised.
Ms Lawson welcomed the Welsh Government’s call, adding: “We strongly support steps which encourage higher welfare produce becoming the ‘norm in Wales, and to encourage people to think carefully about where their food has come from.
“RSPCA Cymru wants all farm animals to have a good life and be treated with compassion and respect – and the RSPCA Assured scheme is a great way to recognise products from animals that have had a better life, giving consumers confidence.
“We’re eager to work with the Welsh Government to ensure that Wales becomes a nation, and label, synonymous with higher welfare produce.”
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