National Puzzle Day: UK Govt delay is animal welfare’s ‘biggest puzzle’

Supporters have been urged to write to their MPs to help break the deadlock

Today (Sunday 29 January) is National Puzzle Day – but, for the RSPCA, the UK Government’s lack of progress on its Kept Animals Bill is “animal welfare’s biggest puzzle” right now.

Many spend National Puzzle Day honing their jig-saw skills, aiming for a Wordle high-score, or dusting off their Sudoku books – but the RSPCA is using the day to highlight its puzzlement at continued delays to a piece of legislation that “promised so much for animals”.

The UK Government’s Kept Animals Bill is a wide-ranging piece of legislation, which includes numerous commitments to improve animal welfare, such as:

  • restricting the keeping of primates as pets;
    banning the export of livestock for slaughter or further fattening;
  • limiting the non-commercial movement of dogs, cats and ferrets;
  • tackling livestock worrying; and
  • Creating specific new offences linked to pet theft 

The law is also expected to give the UK and Welsh Governments powers to place restrictions on the import of dogs from abroad – including those with cropped ears.

The ongoing prevalence of cropped ears dogs in the UK – despite the practice having been illegal to undertake domestically since 2007 – was highlighted in BBC’s recent Panorama and Disclosure documentaries; and the RSPCA has long feared some unscrupulous traders use the existence of this loophole as an excuse to carry out the procedure at home. 

Sadly, the Kept Animals Bill – despite promising so much to improve welfare – has been stuck in the Parliamentary process since November 2021 – with report stage and third reading still to be arranged in the House of Commons, and its journey through the House of Lords still to come; potentially stalling vital improvements for millions of animals.

While the UK Government recently suggested the Bill’s progress would continue in the New Year, the wait goes on for animals.

David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said: “We’re absolutely puzzled why the Kept Animals Bill remains in parliamentary limbo after so long – the UK Government really needs to get this done, for the sake of countless animals.

“From ending the keeping of primates as pets, to banning live export of animals for fattening and slaughter, and stopping cropped ear dogs being imported, this Bill needs to resume its parliamentary journey as soon as possible.”

Polling from the RSPCA shows huge public support for policies contained within the Kept Animals Bill – demonstrating the public appetite for the new Prime Minister to revive this stalled legislation. The polling found:

  • 80% of the public support prohibiting the keeping of primates as pets, including 65% who strongly support it
  • 54% of the public support a ban on live exports with only 10% against it
  • 86% of the public support a ban on the import of puppies under six months with only 8% opposing it
  • 76% of the public support a ban on the import of dogs with cropped ears with only 9% opposing it
  • 81% of the public support making dog theft a specific offence with only 4% opposing it

David added: “The Bill helps the UK Government meet a series of manifesto commitments they were elected on – and has widespread support. It promised so much for animals but the continued delays are definitely animal welfare’s biggest puzzle right now.

“For all the animal lovers out there who are as puzzled as us, we urge them to write to their Member of Parliament on our website, and urge them to call on the UK Government to bring back the Kept Animals Bill – before it’s too late.”

The RSPCA is urging its supporters to #ActNowForAnimals to stop the UK Government from breaking its promises. They can take action on the Kept Animals Bill on the charity’s website

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