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Animal welfare
Charity reveals the difficulties of enforcing animal welfare law

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AN investigation by the Blue Cross into the current state of statutory enforcement of pet welfare legislation in Britain has ‘shone a light into the difficulties our law enforcers face’, according to the charity's chief executive.

Writing in a foreword to a report of the Blue Cross's investigation, Sally de La Bedoyere says that, while legislation can have excellent intentions, the statute book can do only so much, and it is enforcement that makes all the difference to how happy a pet's life will be. However, she says, ‘Local authority cutbacks mean resources are slim in some parts of the country and non-existent in others, while a lack of training and personnel has left many without the necessary skills or confidence to fulfil their jobs to their best abilities.’

Noting that, the last time government bought in a specific law to regulate the sale of pets, Winston Churchill was about to replace Clement Attlee for his second term as prime minister, Ms de La Bedoyere says that the 1951 Pet Animals Act is ‘thoroughly out of date for modern times’. She adds that the charity's investigation has raised ‘overwhelming concerns about the vast scale of the unlicensed pet trade in the 21st century, with the internet enabling unregulated sales to take place online without any regard for welfare or legal recourse for owners when something goes wrong’.

In the report, the Blue Cross says that the importance of effective enforcement of the law has been recognised since the 1820s, when Richard Martin, an MP who was instrumental in securing the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822, commented: ‘If legislation to protect animals is to be effective, it must be adequately enforced.’

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To investigate the current state of enforcement, the charity undertook a number of pieces of research in February this …

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