UntitledEight out of ten people in England support animal welfare being protected by law – as the RSPCA’s new Animal Kindness Index emphasises the importance of further UK Government action for animals.

The RSPCA have teamed up with the Scottish SPCA to launch the landmark new Index – based on a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 UK adults* – giving a snapshot of the country’s attitudes towards animal welfare.

A whopping 80 per cent of those surveyed in England believe animal welfare should be protected in law by the UK Government.

The RSPCA believes the new data demonstrates that the public “clearly want and expect action” from the UK Government to protect animals and their welfare. They’ve urged Ministers to “get on with the job” by prioritising a number of animal welfare issues previously on the agenda that have either stalled, don’t have a clear timetable or have been “left in limbo”.

Calls to the UK Government from the RSPCA include:

  • Ensuring the Kept Animals Bill completes its Parliamentary journey as soon as possible – it’s currently stuck awaiting report stage and third reading in the House of Commons

  • Following through on a commitment to ban the import of fur – previously part of the Animals Abroad Bill, which was dropped

  • Banning the use of cages for laying hens and farrowing crates for pigs -  consultations have been promised, but no timelines have been announced

  • Banning the use of snares – a consultation has also been promised, but no timeline has been announced

Emma Slawinski, RSPCA director of advocacy, said: “Our new Animal Kindness Index clearly shows that people in England want the UK Government to take action on animal welfare.

“This landmark poll shows 80 percent want animal welfare protected in law – showing they clearly want and expect action from UK Ministers.

“While we’ve seen some great recent progress for animals – including their sentience being enshrined in law – we’ve also seen a number of important issues stall or left in limbo, so it’s time the UK Government listened to the public and got on with the job of offering more legal protection to animals.

“Delays to these new laws are causing unnecessary welfare problems for millions of animals – but by banning the import of fur and foie gras, ending the use of cages for laying hens and farrowing crates for pigs, and stopping the use of snares, we can deliver a kinder England.”

Animal welfare issues left in ‘limbo’

The UK Government’s Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill restricts the keeping of primates as pets, bans the export of livestock for slaughter or further fattening, limits the non-commercial movement of dogs, cats and ferrets, tackles livestock worrying, deals with pet theft and amends laws related to zoos. However, it has been “stuck” in the Parliamentary process since October 2021 – with report stage and third reading still to be arranged in the House of Commons, and its journey through the House of Lords still to come; potentially stalling vital improvements for millions of animals.

UK Government plans for an Animals Abroad Bill were also noticeably missing from the recent Queen’s Speech – prompting fears the proposed law will no longer materialise. The Bill had been expected to bring forward a ban on the importation of fur – but these plans appear to have been dropped by the UK Government.

The RSPCA is also urging the UK Government to bring forward bans on the use of snares in England, and on the use of cages for laying hens and farrowing crates for pigs.  Consultations have been promised – but no timeline has been announced by the UK Government.

Snares are cruel and indiscriminate in what they catch – and the RSPCA supports a ban on their use, given the numbers of animals that can suffer a slow and agonising death due to injury in these barbaric traps.

Pig farrowing crates are barred metal crates within a pen where pregnant sows are placed shortly before giving birth. Farrowing crates prevent the sows from turning around and only allow them to move a little forwards and backwards, which can have serious welfare consequences. Many egg-laying hens are still kept in close-confinement cages for their productive lives – and farm animal experts at the RSPCA are very concerned that, in the absence of a ban, hens are being kept in an environment where they cannot carry out all their important natural behaviours properly.

Calls for animal welfare on the curriculum

The Kindness Index also found that 83 percent of people in England support animal welfare being taught in schools – and the RSPCA believe integrating animal welfare learning into the curriculum could “inspire a generation that is kinder and more compassionate” to animals and humans alike.

RSPCA head of education David Allen added: “Embedding animal welfare into the school curriculum is supported by 83 percent of people in England – and we think could be a landmark change for us as a nation.

“The Department for Education has approved a new GCSE in Natural History – which we think could be perfect for animal welfare topics, and help inspire a generation that is kinder and more compassionate; and understands the impact of their actions on all sentient beings.

“Introducing animal welfare into the school curriculum will not only be a fun and exciting subject, but also an important lesson for children to learn.”

More information on the RSPCA’s campaigning work for animals can be found on the charity’s website.