Commenting on today’s (15 June) publication of the Welsh Government’s new programme for government, the RSPCA’s head of public affairs David Bowles said:
“There’s much to welcome for animals and their welfare in this programme for government – and we look forward to working with the Welsh Government and Senedd Members over the next five years to make Wales a better place for pets, farm animals and wildlife to live.”
On a Welsh Government commitment to ban the use of snares:
“A commitment to ban snares follows years of campaigning by the RSPCA, and comes forward after we had invaluable opportunities to present evidence to the Welsh Government about the negative impacts snares have continued to have in Wales, despite the existence of a voluntary code of practice concerning their use.
“This followed a recommendation by the Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee to annually review a code of practice, which simply wasn’t proving effective in deterring inappropriate snare use. We really welcome that these indiscriminate and cruel devices will soon be consigned to the history books in Wales.”
On commitments to require CCTV in all slaughterhouses, and restrict the use of cages for farmed animals:
“We also welcome commitments to improving farm animal welfare – including requiring CCTV in all slaughterhouses, and restricting the use of cages for farmed animals. Polling has indicated 82 percent of the public in Wales supporting the introduction of CCTV – and this will not only protect animals, but offer a great training tool for abattoir staff. We hope this is backed up by legislation, to ensure all abattoirs comply.
“It is hoped these pledges will be backed up by incentivising farmers to deliver high animal welfare on their farms with a new post-Brexit payments scheme that rewards the best standards, as part of a future Agriculture (Wales) Bill.”
On a commitment to forbid the culling of badgers to control the spread of TB in cattle:
“It’s great to see the Welsh Government retain a commitment to not cull badgers as we fight to control the spread of TB in cattle. Bovine Tuberculosis is a devastating disease – and causes grief to so many, particularly within the farming and agricultural community; but badger culling makes no meaningful contribution to tackling cattle TB and needlessly takes the lives of wild animals.”
On plans to develop a national model for regulation of animal welfare:
“Recent regulations in Wales banning the third party sale of puppies and kittens were a welcome step forward in Wales – though we await important clarification that legitimate rescue centres will still be able to rehome young pups and kittens rescued from abandonment and neglect.
“However, clearly, the regulatory framework for the animal welfare sector must go further. Regulating sanctuaries, cat breeding establishments, professional dog walkers and other services will play a key role in helping in securing consistent welfare standards and will offer vital reassurances to the public – so it’s great that the new Welsh Government is committing to a national model of regulation.”
On plans to improve the qualifications for animal welfare inspectors to raise their professional status:
“We know a training programme is already underway to ensure greater consistency in dog breeding enforcement in Wales – and we hope to be involved in the programme to work with our partners in local government on issues such as socialisation and enrichment, which are so important for young pups.
“We welcome plans to improve further the qualifications for animal welfare inspectors – and hope the Welsh Government will also look favourably upon granting statutory powers to RSPCA officers, which will bring the RSPCA in line with our sister organisations across the British Isles, and will enable us to reach animals in distress more quickly without having to wait for the police which will also reduce pressure on other stretched public services.”
On the wider animal welfare agenda:
“While there’s much to welcome in this programme for government, we hope the next five years will bring even more improvements for animals and their welfare. In many ways, animal welfare is at such a critical juncture – with trade deals being negotiated, post-Brexit farm payments being considered and the Covid-19 pandemic placing such a heavy strain on our sector.
“And as the UK Government progresses with a Kept Animals Bill and Animals Sentience Bill, there’ll be big questions in Wales about the future of primates as pets, and how we scrutinise all Welsh Government policy for its impact on animal sentience.
“From ensuring animal welfare is included in Wales’ new curriculum, to securing a fair deal for pet owners in the private rented sector, and even banning the giving of pets as prizes, there’s so much our decision-makers in Wales can think about – and we look forward to continuing to campaign with our supporters on issues included in our ‘Issues for the Welsh Parliament 2021-2026′ manifesto.”