I am very aware of the issues currently facing organisations who are on the frontline as regards tackling animal cruelty. My department is in regular contact with the main bodies representing the animal welfare sector, including the RSPCA, Canine and Feline Sector Group, the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes and the equine welfare charities to understand their position and offer advice.
The Government has supported the sector providing guidance which enables it to continue to operate within the current restrictions, available here: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/SiteAssets/SitePages/Home/CFSG%20Guidance%20for%20Pet%20Rescues.pdf.
We have also encouraged the sector to consider all the various financial support already announced by the Chancellor, and issued guidance for the charity sector which provides further information, available here: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector.
Social enterprises such as community interest companies can benefit from all of the measures set out by the Chancellor to benefit small businesses. We are also exploring options for and giving advice to the sector on the possibility of assistance from the additional specific fund recently announced by the Chancellor to support charities. We have also exempted veterinary practices from having to close so that they continue to treat animals in need of veterinary attention and to help provide for their good welfare.
Powers are available under existing legislation to tackle anyone who commits cruelty on an animal. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, local authorities and police have powers to investigate complaints about poor welfare or animal cruelty. In addition, the RSPCA can also investigate such complaints. Animal charities carry out valuable work to ensure that the health and welfare needs of sick, abandoned and stray animals in their care continue to be met.