At Battersea, we’ve celebrated some major campaigning successes over the past decade thanks to you, our wonderful supporters. Here’s a rundown of some of our biggest achievements
Five Year Sentences for Animal Cruelty
In April 2021, Parliament voted to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales from six months to five years. Scotland did the same in June 2020. This followed a long-running campaign from Battersea which involved research reports, the support of famous friends, tens of thousands of campaign supporters writing to their politicians, and well-attended events in the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments.
We launched our campaign to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty in 2017 and within a matter of months the Government committed to extending sentences. However, a succession of Bills fell in Parliament due to external events, a disheartening experience for all animal lovers. We were sustained throughout by our supporters who never failed to step up and engage with politicians on behalf of our nation’s animals. Thanks to you the sentence now better fits the severity of the crime, protecting animals across the UK.
At Battersea we appreciate how much our pets enrich our lives. They make us happier and healthier and pet owners tend to be more active in their local communities. However, a significant and growing proportion of the population is unable to appreciate the joy of pet ownership because of the terms of their tenancy agreements.
Moving to a new home that does not allow dogs is the second most common reason why people give their dogs up to Battersea. Owners often report feeling forced into this situation by their circumstances and are heartbroken to lose a beloved pet.
That’s why we at Battersea want to increase the number of Pet-Friendly Properties and we’re working with landlords, welfare organisations, tenants, politicians and the Government to make this a reality. In 2021 the Government updated its Model Tenancy Agreement, the template for rental contracts, to remove the ‘no pets’ clause. This means landlords using it will have to provide a ‘good reason’ to refuse their tenants pet ownership. We want to see more action like this, and we are working hard to make it happen by consulting with landlords, housing associations and other stakeholders to make the case for allowing more pets in rented homes.
Microchipping Means More Lost Dogs are Found
Battersea supported moves to make microchipping compulsory for dogs. When this became a reality in 2016, stray dog numbers plummeted as it became far easier to reunite lost dogs with their owners. However, there remain issues with current microchipping practices. Our research found that despite the legislation only one in four stray dogs could be easily reunited with their owners thanks to their microchip, mainly because the microchip details were incorrect. Battersea’s research reveals the real-world impact of microchipping and highlights how microchipping can be improved.
Battersea also supports microchipping cats. Battersea’s microchipping research means we can influence newly proposed laws to make microchipping cats compulsory, avoiding the issues we identified in dog microchipping from the start. Our work means that the law will provide better support for lost animals, enabling more of them to be reunited with their owners.
View our dedicated page to read more about our work on microchipping.
Comfort in Crisis
In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, Battersea partnered with other animal charities to share advice with pet owners and animal-related businesses on how to promote animal welfare during lockdowns and distancing measures. We also worked with the animal rescue sector umbrella body the Association of Dog and Cat Homes (ADCH) to survey animal rescues and report to the Government on the impact of the pandemic on the sector. Battersea conducted its own research into the impact of the pandemic on dogs and cats, sharing this information with members of Government and feeding into Parliamentary debates on the topic.
Our work made sure animal welfare remained on the agenda throughout the crisis and supported rescues all over the country as the worst of the crisis hit their operations and finances.
End Backstreet Breeding – Tackling Problem Puppy Breeding
Battersea’s “End Backstreet Breeding” campaign highlighted many of the issues with puppy breeding in the UK, including the practices of backstreet breeders - unlicensed, low-welfare establishments where puppies and their mothers suffer in order to meet consumer demand. We urged the public to take steps and ask to see the mother when purchasing a puppy, so they could make a buying decision based on seeing the conditions in which the puppy was bred.
Working with the Government and other animal welfare charities, Battersea also helped to shape the licensing laws which crack down on low-welfare puppy breeding in both England and Scotland. We asked for a reduction in the threshold for licensing, and to close loopholes that allowed puppies to be removed from their mothers before they were eight weeks old, both of which were included when the Government made their changes.
Scotland has even begun regulating the rescue sector and Battersea is at the forefront of making sure animal welfare is protected by the laws that govern our sector, and that the public can have even more confidence about the wonderful pet they will get from a rescue.
Battersea seeks to help shape policies ahead of elections to ensure that animal welfare is on the table when politicians outline their priorities to the nation. We published our manifesto ahead of the 2019 General Election and were delighted to see many of the policies we recommended in the national manifestos of major political parties.
Before the 2021 local and national elections, Battersea attended meetings with the people responsible for writing the manifestos for all the major political parties as part of our work in an organisation of animal welfare charities operating in Wales (CAWGW). As a result, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour released manifestos that included a section on animal welfare – an increasingly common sight in election manifestos. In Scotland, we joined with other animal welfare charities to get candidates to pledge to do more for Scotland’s animals. In both Scotland and Wales, we helped organise events where representatives of the main political parties will answer questions from the public on animal welfare.
There’s Still More to Come…
Battersea’s campaigning work continues as we fight for a better future for all the UK’s dogs and cats. From banning electronic shock collars to pet abduction sentencing, and compulsory microchipping through to regulating rescues, we campaign on a broad and diverse range of animal welfare issues, and we will always need our supporters to help lend animals their voice. Sign up to here to get involved in our campaigns.