Battersea welcomes government action plan recognising animal welfare

12 MAY 2021

Leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, today (12 May) welcomed new Government plans looking to improve the lives of animals in the UK and abroad. During a visit to Battersea’s iconic London centre, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon George Eustice MP, launched the Action Plan for Animal Welfare to improve the welfare of animals in the UK and abroad. 

The Action Plan will see several new laws and non-legislative changes coming into effect over the coming months. The first of these is a new Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which recognises animals as sentient beings, which will be introduced to Parliament tomorrow (13 May) and will be followed by other measures that include; prohibiting live animal exports, cracking down on pet theft and puppy smuggling, and introducing compulsory microchipping for owned cats.

Battersea’s Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said: “Battersea is excited by the new Action Plan for Animal Welfare, and the difference it can make.  Year round, we see first-hand the impact of puppy smuggling, take in hundreds of stray dogs and cats, and support owners who have lost their much-loved pets. 

Every dog and cat deserves to be safe from harm and this means clamping down on those trading animals illegally and in poor welfare conditions, being proactive to protect owners from the devastation of having their pet lost or stolen, and doing everything we can to reunite them. 

Our pets are not only sentient beings, but much-loved family members and we support any measures that will protect them from unnecessary suffering, and reassure dog and cat owners, both now and in the future.”

Battersea frequently takes in dogs that have likely been bred in poor conditions before being sold on to unsuspecting owners. On his visit to Battersea, the Environment Secretary met Phoenix, a 6-month-old Border Terrier, who arrived at Battersea after he was left at a London property by a puppy dealer. His microchip showed that he had been bred in Northern Ireland before being supplied to a dealer to sell on, Puppy imports have soared to meet demand under lockdown, and Battersea hopes that increasing the age a puppy or kitten can be imported into the UK to six months will ensure a crackdown on those who put profit before animal welfare.

Battersea is also pleased to see the Government’s plans to introduce compulsory cat microchipping. 57% of cats arriving at Battersea last year were not microchipped, making it extremely difficult for them to be reunited with their owners. These include Bruno, a 3-year-old Domestic Short Hair cat, who arrived at Battersea as a stray last week. As he isn’t microchipped Battersea has been unable to find his owner and will be seeking a new home for him in the coming weeks.

Battersea welcomes other measures outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare including a crackdown on pet theft and a proposed ban of remote-controlled shock collars which cause unnecessary suffering. The charity now looks forward to working with the Government on the detail surrounding these measures, and bringing forward the legislation required, to ensure we create a world-leading environment for companion animals in the UK.


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Notes to editors

  • The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was passed at the end of April 2021 following a five-year campaign championed by Battersea.  This landmark change in law now sees the maximum sentence for cases of animal cruelty increased from six months to five years in prison. For more information visit  Battersea’s report, Sentencing for Animal Cruelty in England and Wales, can be found here.  
  • Battersea is here for every dog and cat and has been since 1860. Since it was founded over 150 years ago, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • We believe that every dog and cat deserves the best. That’s why we aim to never turn away a dog or cat in need.
  • Battersea helps over 5,000 dogs and cats across its three centres annually.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 240 dogs and 145 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea, but the average stay for a dog is 34 days and 25 days for a cat.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • We’re reliant on the generosity of the public to continue to fund our vital work helping dogs and cats and the people who care for them.  To donate to Battersea, visit
  • For further information on Battersea, please visit
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or