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Animal Welfare Update

Monday, May 9, 2011

Every few months my website will carry news items concerned with animal welfare compiled by my staff. I hope you find the items useful and interesting.


Animal Health Board

The new Animal Health and Welfare Board for England will bring experts, including farmers, veterinarians, welfare experts and others, together with the Chief Veterinary Officer and civil servants to make direct policy recommendations on policy affecting the health and welfare of all kept animals such as farm animals, horses and pets. Final decisions on animal health and welfare policy will remain in the hands of government Ministers.


The Board will be made up of around 12 members, 5 senior Defra officials including the Chief Veterinary Officer, and 7-8 external members including the chair.  The external members will have experience and knowledge of kept and farmed animals, animal and veterinary science, and animal welfare. They could be farmers, veterinarians and animal welfare experts.


The Board will not be set up as a non departmental public body or arms length body.  It will form part of the internal structure of Defra. It will have to represent the views of all stakeholders so will be expected to communicate with them regularly, its responsibilities include:

         setting the strategic policy priorities,

         development of key policies and how they should be funded,

         assessing the risk of threats from animal disease and how to manage them,

         determining the surveillance and research priorities,

         reviewing and developing contingency plans for dealing with new disease outbreaks, and

         considering what if any, charging mechanisms should be introduced.



Fairer Filling

The Fairer Fillings sandwich campaign is encouraging consumers to ensure that their sandwiches are produced to the RSPCA’s Freedom Food standard for higher animal welfare.


There are now around 2,500 Freedom Food assured farms across England and Wales rearing laying hens, chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, sheep, salmon, beef and dairy cattle to higher animal welfare standards. Freedom Food meat, fish and eggs are available in all major UK supermarkets as well as many smaller retailers, and are clearly labelled to ensure that customers are able to choose a higher welfare option.


Sandwiches are the UK’s favourite lunch, with over 3 billion commercially produced sandwiches sold in the UK every year and many more being made in homes around the country. The RSPCA is keen to ensure that as many of these sandwiches as possible are produced to Freedom Food’s higher animal welfare standards.


Rhino Poaching in South Africa increases

333 Rhinos in South Africa were illegally killed in 2010 making this an all-time high, this figure is nearly triple that of 2009 (122). This recent increase in poaching is believed to be because of the high demand for rhino horns in Asian countries as it is used in traditional medicine. It has also been claimed recently that rhino horn possesses cancer-curing properties, despite there being no medical evidence to support the assertion.


South Africa and the WWF are working together to try and prevent this rise from continuing.  However the major issue lies in Asian countries who create the rise in this illegal trade.


Animal Rescue in Haiti

The ARCH (Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti) has announced that it had successfully met all six objectives outlined in their 1million dollar agreement with the Haitian government. The overall aim of the relief effort was to improve animal welfare conditions, repair the country’s damaged veterinary capacity and have long-lasting impact for animals and people following the devastating earthquake of 2010.


Formed just days after the quake, ARCH was led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The coalition was comprised by more than 20 of the world’s leading animal welfare groups and was the only coalition that set off to provide relief for the animal survivors in Haiti and address the threat of disease spreading from animal to human.

After running operations seven days a week for the past year ARCH steps aside as the Haitian government will tackle animal needs in Haiti through the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development. Since its inception, ARCH’s Mobile Veterinary Clinic has treated close to 68,000 animals including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, pigs, goats and sheep. The clinic has serviced the greater metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince as well as other quake-impacted areas like Carrefour and Leogane.


Pet care hit as recession bites

Animal Welfare charity, the Blue Cross has recently said that owners are struggling to find the cash to care for their pets.  They also say that more pets are being abandoned because owners cannot afford to feed them and has found a 19% rise in animals taken into its centres in the last year.


As economic times get tough, pets are some of the first to suffer with thousands of owners now saying they can no longer pay for rising food and vet bills. Half a million pet owners have been reduced to feeding their pet with leftovers, while two-thirds  have trouble finding the average of 11.04 each week to care for their pets. One in five say they are dropping essentials such as visits to the vet to try to bring the weekly pet bill to less than 5, says a study by the Blue Cross.


Fish pedicures fuels health and animal welfare concerns

One of the fastest-growing beauty treatments, fish pedicures during which tiny toothless carp smooth down feet by eating dead skin has come under new scrutiny from health experts and animal rights campaigners.


The number of outlets offering a pedicure with Garra rufa is growing rapidly. The fish lift off hard skin and, through an enzyme in their saliva, diathanol, are thought to heal conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. As the craze catches on, beauty salons are already starting to move on to full body immersion tanks. But even for those who can get past the "ick" factor, the treatment is not without controversy.


Following the decision by more than a dozen states in the US to ban the pedicures over fears they could spread infections and disease, scientists from the Health Protection Agency have begun an investigation into potential risks. Animal rights groups have also voiced alarm - "We do have concerns about the welfare of any fish involved in this practice," a spokeswoman for the RSPCA explained.


Two local groups concerned with the welfare of animals


Sheffield Dog Rescue

Sheffield Dog Rescue is run by a small number of volunteers to help dogs in need. Many of the dogs come to the centre via North East Derbyshire Dog Wardens and they also receive numerous calls from members of the public asking for help to re-home their pet dogs. Sheffield Dog Rescue tries to help as many dogs as they can, but funding and kennel space make this a difficult task.


They operate a no kill policy and none of their dogs are destroyed, unless advised to do so by the vet for health reasons. The kennels are located at Mosborough in Sheffield, where the dogs can be viewed by appointment. Voluntary dog walkers are welcomed, as the dogs need to be exercised and socialised as much as possible.


The Dog Rescue Centre rely totally on donations and have many fundraising events throughout the year, including dogs shows, sponsored dog walks, raffles and jumble sales. You can help find homes for their dogs by buying a ‘Rescue Me’ brand t-shirt or tote bag as your purchase will help raise money for the shelter.



Pet Samaritans

Pet Samaritans are a not for profit animal welfare sanctuary located in Derbyshire. They provide permanent residential care for abandoned, injured and neglected pets. Started over 30 years ago, the Pet Samaritans animal sanctuary provides a safe home for many pets including dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens and all sorts of farm animals. Services include Pet Advice, Residential Pet Care and Retirement, Pet Re-Homing, Dog Adoption, Animal Welfare Campaigns and help with Pet Behavioral Problems.



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