2021 Elections: Putting Animal Welfare Centre Stage

27 MAY 2021

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At Battersea, we pride ourselves on being there for every dog and cat, which means taking every opportunity we can to advance animal welfare in the UK. After the 2020 elections were postponed, the 2021 elections saw a record-breaking spate of national, regional and local contests across the UK, providing a great opportunity for us to share our policy priorities with a wide range of candidates.

Devolved legislatures in Scotland and Wales and the local assemblies and authorities who were facing elections in 2021 have a range of responsibilities; from local authority dog wardens all the way to setting the direction of travel for animal welfare policy in its broadest terms. We know that animal welfare is always a key priority for voters, so we wanted to make sure election candidates gave it the attention it deserves. Here’s how:

Scotland

In Scotland, Battersea is part of the More for Scotland’s Animals coalition. This is a group of animal welfare charities that came together to ensure that animal welfare is taken seriously in the Scottish Parliament. The coalition ran a campaign encouraging Scottish Parliamentary candidates to pledge to do more to protect animals from cruelty and support animal welfare education.

As part of the coalition, we organised a virtual hustings event, at which leading candidates from the major parties in Scotland were able to put forward and debate what they would do after the election. The candidates, many now MSPs, discussed important subjects like animal sentience and greyhound racing. You can watch the hustings back here.

Wales

In Wales, we worked with other animal welfare organisations as part of the Companion Animal Welfare Group Wales. This group published its own manifesto for the election, calling on candidates to back a variety of proposals including compulsory microchipping of owned cats in Wales and improvements in, as well as better enforcement of, the dog breeding regulations.

The group, under the banner for ‘More for Pets in Wales’, also organised a Welsh hustings in which leading Senedd candidates, who are also party spokespeople for animal welfare, debated the key animal welfare issues ahead of the election. This included sentencing in cases of animal cruelty and creative measures to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.

London

In London, Battersea worked closely with Assembly and Mayoral candidates, several of whom were able to visit our London site in 2019 and in 2020 before COVID-19 restrictions became necessary. We spent time reviewing the Mayoral and London Assembly’s policy responsibilities and found several key areas for improvement on animal welfare, as well as identifying the opportunity to encourage central government, local authorities and housing associations to implement better policies for our animals.

What you can do

Now that the votes have been counted and we know who our representatives are, it’s time to hold them accountable for the promises that they have made on animal welfare. Battersea will be working closely with all those elected to deliver our campaigns, and we’ll need your help. It was only with the support of the thousands of members of the public that wrote to their MPs and MSPs that we were able to achieve five-year sentences for animal cruelty in England, Wales and Scotland. Together we can continue to make even more progress for dog and cat welfare.

You can keep up to date on our policy priorities by following Battersea Public Affairs on Twitter, and sign up to be kept informed of our forthcoming campaigns here.

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