Dogs: Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th July 2021.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps steps he is taking to tackle the promotion of cropping dogs ears on social media.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This Government is committed to eradicating the illegal cropping of dogs ears, not just addressing the practice’s promotion on social media. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is already an offence in England and Wales to carry out a non-exempted mutilation e.g. where it is not carried out for medical purposes, including the cropping of a dog’s ears. Now that The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 has come into force, anyone convicted of such an offence faces being sent to prison for up to 5 years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both.

The Government published its Action Plan for Animal Welfare on 12th May, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/action-plan-for-animal-welfare/action-plan-for-animal-welfare. This is a wide-reaching and ambitious plan to set out our current and future work on animal welfare. The Government has a manifesto commitment to crack down on puppy smuggling and one of our key reforms in the plan is to end this abhorrent, cruel practice and low-welfare pet imports. As part of the Action Plan, we are now making some significant changes to domestic law through the recently introduced Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. This Bill was introduced in Parliament on the 8 June and will progress through Parliament when parliamentary time allows. The Bill includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and on the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation. These power will allow us to go further and prioritise the welfare of dogs by prohibiting the importation and non-commercial movement of dogs into GB that have been subject to low welfare practices, such as ear cropping or tail docking, in line with our domestic legislation on these practices.

Meanwhile my Department maintains a national communications campaign (Petfished) to raise awareness of issues associated with low-welfare and illegal supply of pets. This includes providing clear signposting on where responsible breeders and rehoming centres can be found and encouraging prospective buyers to research the seller thoroughly before they visit and decide to purchase. The campaign provides a list of red flags for buyers to look out for when searching for a pet online. More information can be found here: https://getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk/. We have also endorsed The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) which was created to combat growing concerns about the irresponsible advertising of pets for sale, rehoming and exchange and backed a set of Minimum Standards that PAAG developed which several of the UK’s largest classified websites have agreed to meet.

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