The RSPCA has published its first ever report into the state of animal welfare in Wales.
Animal welfare is now a formally devolved issue (with some exceptions*) and this report recognises several significant milestones:
· New legislation has made using electronic shock collars on dogs and cats in Wales illegal. This is the first law of its kind in the UK. A successful prosecution against an Ogmore dog owner was brought using this legislation in 2011.
· Wales was the first country within Great Britain to have codes of practice in relation to the welfare of dogs, cats and equines.
· In 2010 the Welsh Government published a code of practice for the welfare of rabbits, and again is the only country in Great Britain to have done so.
· In 2010, 81 percent of Assembly Members, staff and civil servants voted in favour of the National Assembly for Wales switching to Freedom Food**-labelled produce. Freedom Food eggs and salmon have now been introduced in the National Assembly for Wales – the first legislature to do so.
The report, Animal Welfare Indicators Wales, is a snapshot into the state of animal welfare in Wales. Consisting of statistics compiled by the RSPCA using sources such as the Welsh Government’s CAWES (Companion Animal Welfare Enhancement) Scheme, it provides a view of the way animals are treated in Wales.
Key findings in the report include:
· In 2010, the RSPCA received 60,000 telephone calls in Wales alone (that’s 1 in 50 of the population), of which 8,009 were subsequently investigated as complaints. The RSPCA has 5 Animal Collection Officers, 5 Animal Welfare Officers & 28 Inspectors in Wales
· There were 147 convictions under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in 2010 as a result of prosecutions taken by the RSPCA
· 1,723 unwanted cats and 646 unwanted dogs were taken into the care of the RSPCA in 2010
· 68% of hens in Wales are kept in Free-range systems***
· 36% of stray dogs were returned to their owner in 2009-2010
· Wales has 139 Freedom Food members accounting for over 1.8 million animals
David Bowles, RSPCA director of communications, said: “Animal Welfare Indicators Wales is the most comprehensive measure of animal welfare in the nation.”
He said: “We are proud of our achievements in Wales and our working partnership with the Welsh Government. Since 1999 we have had a dedicated team to liaise with the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government and our work together is now more important than ever. We hope in the years to come that the information detailed in this report will be expanded and new indicators will be introduced covering a wider variety of issues and animals. The Welsh Government and the RSPCA continue to strive for high standards of animal welfare.
“For improvements to be made to the lives of animals in Wales, we need to know where we are starting from. By benchmarking animal welfare and subsequently tracking and measuring, we can identify where problems are and encourage positive changes.
“Our idea is to ask the same questions about animal welfare every year, so we can measure how things are improving – or not. This RSPCA report is the only one that tackles the state of animal welfare on such a scale.
“The questions we are asking are those that we feel are significant from an animal protection perspective, and ones which we feel are essential for informing government and stakeholder policy.”
A full PDF version of Animal Welfare Indicators Wales is available to download for free at www.politicalanimal.org.uk/wales
Notes to editors
Contact the RSPCA Wales press office on 0300 123 8904 or email@example.com for more information.
*Hunting remains within the purview of Westminster as detailed in the Government of Wales Act (2006) and the responsibility for the regulation of animal experiments is reserved to the Home Office.
**Freedom Food is the RSPCA’s farm assurance and food labelling scheme. It is the
only UK farm assurance scheme to focus solely on improving the welfare of farm
animals reared for food and covers every stage of an animal’s life.
***As of July 2011
RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rspca.org.uk