Legislative Changes Improving Animal Welfare: A Look at Milestone Victories in the Past Year and What’s to Come

How legislative change is helping animals get a better deal

To celebrate World Animal Day (4 October), the RSPCA is taking a look at amazing changes for animal welfare during the past year and what we want to achieve in the year to come.

For almost 200 years, the RSPCA has been at the forefront of animal welfare and during that time the charity has fought relentlessly for all animals to be given the quality of life they deserve.

Throughout history the RSPCA has helped to achieve so much thanks to relentless campaigning, and the past 12 months have been no exception. The year has been filled with milestone victories for animal welfare as a result of legislative changes that will improve the lives of animals in the future too.

Some of this year’s animal welfare legislation success

  • In April, after years of dedicated campaigning from RSPCA  teams and supporters, the UK Government passed the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Billl. The UK will now boast a law which will transform animal welfare by increasing sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years. This means that animals who have suffered unbearable, unnecessary cruelty at the hands of human beings, will finally get the justice they deserve.

  • In August, after more than 50 years of campaigning by the RSPCA, DEFRA and the Welsh Government announced new measures to end the live exports of farm animals for slaughter and further fattening from Great Britain and improve internal transport including reduced maximum journey times, better space allowances such as more headroom, and stricter rules during extreme weather, to raise welfare of farm animals during transport.

  • A Government consultation in England, which ended in February, proposed a ban on the keeping of primates as pets. The Welsh Government has also changed their position and are now supportive of a ban too. The RSPCA, who’d worked with other animal welfare organisations and primate rescue groups for years calling for a ban on keeping primates as pets, has welcomed the proposed ban but still has concerns about how it will work in practice.

  • The Welsh Government announced its intention to ban the use of glue traps in September- after two Senedd Members tabled legislative proposals from the charity which would have outlawed the devices in Wales. The ban is expected to come into force alongside a ban on deadly snares, too, as part of an Agriculture (Wales) Bill.

And in 2021, the charity also launched its new strategy – Together for animal welfare – a pledge to keep up the pace of the hard work they have come to be known for.

However, work is not done because millions of animals still need help to influence the changes in law they need to experience better lives.

Over the coming year, it’s expected that animal-lovers will see further welfare improvements, including:

  • Restrictions on puppy imports

  • Banning the import of dogs with cropped ears and pregnant dogs

  • Compulsory cat microchipping

  • Mandatory method of production food labelling

  • Banning the import and export of detached shark fins and the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals abroad

  • Ban on the import of Foie Gras

Emma Slawinski, the RSPCA’s Director of Advocacy & Policy, said: “While we are delighted with all the legislation and improvements, we feel there is more to do to tackle the real fundamentals of animal welfare, including intensive farming, phasing out animal experiments, and addressing habitat destruction.

“Over the coming year, we will continue to run public campaigns, lobby behind the scenes, give evidence to inquiries, and respond to consultations  – but we need your support!

“Anyone who cares about animals as much as we do can help give animals a voice by signing petitions, writing to MPs, and by signing up to our campaign newsletter for regular updates about how to help.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.

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