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Welfare report makes history

THE RSPCA has launched a wide-raging report into the state of animal welfare in the United Kingdom – and lists recommendations as to how this may be improved in coming years.

The report, entitled The state of animal welfare in the UK 2005 was launched on October 4th -World Animal Day – and is, according to the charity’s press statement "the first report of its type in 200 years of RSPCA work – [which] acts as a benchmark to show how the welfare of animals is improving – or worsening – today and in years to come."

The groundbreaking report features 25 indicators that highlight a whole host of animal welfare issues.

Issues such as how animals are treated, how they are viewed by society, what legislation exists to protect them and how this is enforced are symbolic of the state of society itself. A critical assessment of each issue demonstrates improvements that need to be made, and highlights the positive impact of legislation, public attitudes and understanding of these key animal welfare issues.

A ‘traffic light indicator’ system is used in the report and reveals the areas of animal welfare that are improving, standing still or getting worse. The report awards six green lights (improvements), six red (worsening), nine amber (unchanged or negligible) and 10 grey (insufficient or no data is available).

RSPCA head of external affairs David Bowles said: ‘This historic report is vitally important, not only as it is the first time animal welfare has actually been measured in the UK, but also to feed into government policy and inform decision-makers and stakeholders.’

The report acknowledges how animal welfare affects everybody in society and focuses on four direct animal categories - the welfare of animals used in research and testing, farm animal welfare, wildlife, and pet animals - it also contains a generic chapter that highlights indirect factors that influence animal welfare.

Number of unwanted healthy animals taken into RSPCA care (page 59) In 2001, 97,541 healthy animals entered RSPCA care. In 2005 this had dropped to 74,823. The RSPCA believes that that figure is still far too high. Alarmingly, the report reveals the increase in welfare concerns and the lack of a rise in microchipped animals. With the new Animal Welfare Act soon to become law, the level of responsible pet ownership, which is key to improving welfare, still needs to increase significantly.

A copy of the report may be downloaded via the RSPCA’s wesbite: