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Animal welfare
Welfare of exotic pets
  1. Martin L. Whitehead
  1. Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital, Banbury Road, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 5SY e-mail:

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YOUR editorial ‘Tough task on pet welfare’ (VR, April 30, 2016, vol 178, p 430), commenting on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's inquiry into the welfare of domesticated pet species, states: ‘With regard to the Animal Welfare Act, the key question is, perhaps, not so much whether the Act has been effective, but whether it is being applied to best effect.’ With regard to the common domesticated pet species – dogs, cats and horses – I agree that the Act itself is an effective piece of legislation in need of more and improved application.

However, although the Act includes all vertebrate species, for many non-domesticated vertebrate species kept as pets, that is, ‘exotic pets’ or ‘non-traditional companion animals’, the Act is less able to protect animal welfare. This is because of factors arising from fundamental differences between domesticated and exotic pet species in terms of their suitability for conditions in the UK, people's understanding of those species and societal attitudes towards those species. Three major difficulties are:

First, in contrast to the traditional domesticated species, many exotic pet species are fundamentally …

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