06 SEP 2018

Animal Welfare

On August Bank Holiday Monday I took great pleasure in judging the dog show at Sissinghurst's idyllic annual village fete. It was great to share the day with dog lovers from right across Kent, all of whom clearly and dearly cared for their pooches.

Unfortunately not everyone is as compassionate towards their animals as the good folk at Sissinghurst fete and some, incomprehensibly, actually seek to cause harm. It seems appropriate, therefore, to note some recent initiatives announced by the Government to better protect our animal friends.

Firstly, I join with many charities and individuals in applauding last week's announcement to ban electric-shock collars for cats and dogs in England. These so-called 'training devices' deliver up to 6,000 volts of electricity, or spray noxious chemicals, to try and control behaviour. Like me, many believe they cause unacceptable harm and suffering where good training alongside owner care and attention is usually all that is required.

The Government also recently announced a consultation on plans to ban 'third-party' puppy and kitten sales from pet shops and commercial dealers – where sometimes appalling conditions abound. This will mean those wanting to buy or adopt a pet less than six months old will have to go to the original breeder or a rescue centre.

More broadly, for those found guilty of the most serious animal cruelty offences, steps are also being taken to increase the maximum jail term from six months to five years.

On the commercial livestock front; CCTV is to be made compulsory in slaughterhouses and a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter is also being considered, post Brexit, where presently EU single-market rules prevent such a ban.

From my post bag and on the doorstep in Maidstone & The Weald, I know there are many devoted animal lovers in this part of the world and I am sure they will join me in welcoming all of these measures.

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