As cash-strapped councils are under pressure to deliver more welfare work with no extra funding, RSPCA warns that animals could be the ones to take the fall.

Councils are under increasing pressure from budget cuts, and, sadly, animal services are often the first to be affected.

Running stray dog services, caring for pets belonging to owners in hospital, ensuring pets shops and kennels are properly licensed, and protecting animals from environmental health and noise issues are all problems councils are legally obliged to deal with. The demand for these services shows no sign of going down, and councils are being asked to do more crucial welfare work.

More recently, they were tasked to tackle problems with fly-grazed horses and will soon be expected to enforce even stricter conditions on a bigger range of animal establishments – but with no extra funding.

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor are the RSPCA, said, “Councils are under increasing pressure from budget cuts, and, sadly, animal services are often the first to be affected.

“We are already seeing the impact of this in the number of services being cut or outsourced, the number of previously specialist animal welfare staff being given ever wider remits and, in the most extreme cases, some local authorities abandoning aspects of animal welfare provision altogether.

“We’re concerned that councils need more funds or animals could suffer. Everyone involved, at all levels of government, must start to recognise and value the work of the hardworking staff involved in protecting animal welfare.”

Rachel Williams added, “The work that local authorities, housing providers, contingency planners, the police and other public sector organisations do to protect and improve animal welfare is absolutely vital and should be recognised and celebrated.

“However we feel there needs to be political will from elected representatives to stop animal welfare services from being sacrificed when budgets are tight or tightened further, and crucially, there needs to be more money, more guidance and more support from national governments to help protect animal welfare services and dedicated animal welfare staff.”

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