Examination of Witnesses

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:31 am on 23rd July 2019.

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Michael Flower:

We would have to concede that there are differences with the legislation. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 protects animals that are considered protected animals. Broadly speaking, those are domestic animals. It does include wild animals if they are under the control of man. Some cruelty cases will involve wild animals, such as a badger or a fox, which often are caught during illegal hunting activities. Those animals will have dogs set on them. We had a case in Wales recently where a group of men were involved in that activity, and a young baby badger was skinned alive by two dogs pulling at each end.

Some offences relating to wild animals will be caught by this legislation. Some will not be. The crux is whether the wild animal is under the control of man. In some circumstances that is not the case, whatever cruelty is perpetrated upon them. In an ideal world, at some point in the future I hope there will be some merit in looking at animal-related sentences across the board, because we have the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, the Deer Act 1991 and Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which protects wild birds, but all those animals can be caused to suffer in the course of other activities. The Bill does not solve all problems for all animals, but, given that the vast majority of cruelty cases that are prosecuted relate to domestic animals, it is an extremely important first step.