Battersea’s General Election Manifesto: Don’t forget about the animals
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has set out its top animal welfare priorities for a new Parliament ahead of the June General Election.
The world-renowned charity publishes its Manifesto today, which lays out 10 of the most pressing welfare issues affecting dogs and cats that will come before the new Government, including sentencing for animal cruelty, better plans to tackle puppy farms and backstreet breeding, and a new pet passports scheme ahead of Brexit.
Battersea's Chief Executive, Claire Horton, said: "Battersea has been looking after lost, abandoned and unwanted dogs and cats for 157 years, so we are well placed to comment on what we all need to do to improve animal welfare - starting with the need for tougher sentences for the most brutal cases of animal cruelty.”
Battersea’s current campaign calls for a five-year maximum sentence for the most severe animal cruelty offences. The current maximum in England and Wales is just six months in prison - the lowest in Europe. Since its February launch the response has been overwhelming, with more than 36,000 members of the public emailing their MPs and now parliamentary candidates to ask for their support.
The Home sees too many heartbreaking cases of cruelty and neglect – such as elderly Labrador Othello, tied to Battersea’s front gates with broken bones and many serious health problems. He is currently being fostered by a member of Battersea’s staff to help his recovery and to ensure he gets all the love and attention he previously lacked.
The Home is also urging the new Government to continue with vital work to tighten regulations around the breeding and sale of dogs by closing loopholes allowing the sale of underage puppies and tightening the net around backstreet breeders and puppy farmers.
Claire Horton continued: "This is a critical time for this issue as the long overdue reform of the regulations around the breeding and sale of dogs is ongoing and it’s vital the new Government finishes this work and cracks down on this cruel trade.”
Given the UK's impending withdrawal from the European Union, Battersea is also calling for a rethink on pet passports, new border controls for pets, and better enforcement of these checks.
Claire Horton added: “We're preparing to leave the EU so we must have tighter border control for pets to stop puppy smugglers and the spread of disease. Between 2011 and 2015, the number of dogs being brought into the UK under the Pets Travel Scheme doubled, so it’s essential the right checks and balances are brought in to raise the alert to risk of diseases not currently within the UK.”
On the need for Battersea to issue its Manifesto, Claire Horton concluded:
"We know how much the public cares about these issues – prior to the 2015 General Election a YouGov poll showed that around one in six voters would determine their vote based on animal welfare issues, while 87% said they would be more likely to vote for a party that prioritised animal welfare.
“Our ten welfare issues laid out in our Battersea Manifesto need to be priorities for the new Government. Disappointingly, animal welfare has rarely been discussed during the election campaign, so we will continue to work to make sure the Government doesn’t forget about the animals.””
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Notes to editors
- Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society.
- Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
- In 2016 the Home cared for over 7000 dogs and cats.
- Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
- There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 35 days and 22 days for a cat.
- For further information on Battersea Dogs & Cats Home please visit www.battersea.org.uk.
- Follow Battersea on Twitter @BDCH or facebook.com/Battersea