Animal welfare bill at risk of being scrapped

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A litter of smuggled English Bulldogs spend time in quarantine
Smuggled pups. Image by Dogs Trust

When the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021, there were high hopes that it may bring about some real change for animal welfare in the UK. But almost two years on, not only is has yet to be enshrined into law: it is at risk of being scrapped entirely.

The Kept Animals Bill is an ambitious Bill that, among other things, aims to crack down on puppy smuggling; introduce the new crime of dog abduction to deter dog theft; and ban the import of dogs with cropped ears.

Despite starting out its journey through Parliament with support across party lines, the Kept Animals Bill stalled before it could receive its third reading in the House of Commons and move on to the House of Lords.

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Dog theft is currently considered simple theft of property. The Kept Animals Bill aimed to introduce the new crime of ‘dog abduction’

With the political turmoil that led to Boris Johnson’s resignation first, Liz Truss’ short tenure later, and then Rishi Sunak’s premiership, the Bill was entirely forgotten about. Despite calls to allow the Bill to complete its journey through Parliament, nothing has happened since – and time is running out, as 8 June 2023 will mark two years since it was first introduced.

Dog charity Dogs Trust had Waffle, a dog smuggled to the UK from Slovakia, deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, asking for the Bill to be passed through Parliament “before it’s too late”.

“If not passed through Parliament before the 8 June the Kept Animals Bill, which would help bring an end to dogs like Waffle being smuggled into the UK in horrific conditions, and dogs with mutilations such as cropped ears being brought for sale into the UK, will be scrapped,” Dogs Trust explains.

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Waffle at 10 Downing Street

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, added, “The Kept Animals Bill has been brought up in Parliament no less than 35 times – but each time it’s either been ignored, or a non-committal response has been given. So today, in desperation, I visited No.10 to hand deliver a letter urging the Prime Minister to please bring back the Bill before it’s too late, and help End puppy smuggling, so puppies like Waffle don’t continue to suffer.

“Why has the Government continued to allow this to happen? It certainly feels, at the moment, as if the Government made some empty promises in their manifesto – I very much hope they’ll prove me wrong.”

People who want to support efforts to bring the Bill back to Parliament can email the Prime Minister here.

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