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Pet Care Trust calls for targeted enforcement

The government is continuing to favour excessive red tape over targeted enforcement with its latest report on the draft Animal Welfare Bill, the Pet Care Trust has warned.

In its response to the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee report on the draft Animal Welfare Bill, the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) stuck to its plans calling for regular inspections with an obligatory veterinary presence, rather than basing inspections on a sensible risk assessment.

"As we’ve said ever since DEFRA first published the draft Animal Welfare Bill, this is completely unnecessary," said Janet Nunn, Chief Executive of the Pet Care Trust. "Pet shops, kennels and catteries house healthy animals. Routine inspections are expensive and inconsistent in quality. A statutory vet inspection is pointless when many pet shops already have an excellent working relationship with their local vet."

Instead of annual or 18-month licences, the Pet Care Trust supports enforcement by perpetual licence or registration. This registration would then be renewed whenever substantive changes occurred, for instance with a change of business ownership.

High standards

As is the case already, pet shop managers would be required to show competence in pet store management by either possessing or working towards an appropriate qualification. The system would also be backed up by targeted enforcement, with inspections by local authorities at a frequency dictated by the nature of the business and their track record in working to high standards of animal welfare.

"Enforcement officers should be allowed to vary the frequency of their visits in light of their own risk assessment of the individual businesses," said Ms Nunn. "Our inspection regimes must be modernised and brought into the 21st century. Sadly, this latest report shows that DEFRA still haven’t got the message."