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The welfare state: MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

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CONTENTS

Measuring animal welfare in the UK 2007

5–7

Introduction

8–9

Generic indicators I I I I I I I I I I

10–39

Introduction The proportion of FTSE 100 companies with animal welfare improvements in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies The number of relevant government advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) on which an animal welfare specialist is represented The proportion of people interested in improving animal welfare The proportion of schools that incorporate animal welfare into their curriculum The number of firework-related communications received by the RSPCA The number of stray dogs collected by local authorities in the UK The number of local authorities in the UK that have an animal welfare charter The number of relevant white papers published by the UK government that include a positive animal welfare component The number of investigations and convictions taken by the RSPCA under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006

Farm animal indicators I I I I I I

Introduction The number of unwanted healthy animals taken into the care of the RSPCA The number of non-microchipped cats and dogs taken into RSPCA care The number of healthy dogs being euthanased by the RSPCA due to irresponsible pet ownership The number of organised animal fights in the UK The number of animal welfare complaints investigated by RSPCA inspectors

59 60 62 65 67 71

74–87

Introduction The number of non-human primates used in scientific procedures in the UK The amount of laboratory animal suffering The proportion of non-animal methods in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) test guidelines The number of animals used in quality-control tests for release of veterinary vaccines in the UK The percentage of scientific journals with ethical policies and guidelines relating to the use of animals in research and testing

Wildlife indicators I I I I I

41 42 45 48 51 54

58–73

Research animal indicators I I I I I I

35 38

40–57

Introduction The number of animals transported live from the UK for slaughter and further fattening The production of UK non-cage eggs as a proportion of total eggs produced The number of chickens reared to higher on-farm welfare standards Piglet mortality levels between birth and weaning The number, nature and outcomes of Animal Health inspections of farms and livestock markets

Pet animal indicators I I I I I I

11 12 15 18 21 26 29 33

75 76 79 81 83 85

88–106

Introduction The number of stranded cetaceans by-caught around the UK The number of imported wild-taken reptiles and birds as a proportion of the total trade into the UK and EU The provision of quality written information for the sale of non-domestic pets (reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals) in a sample of outlets The proportion of fishing tackle-related swan incidents recorded by the RSPCA

89 90 92 97 104

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 3


4 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


SUMMARY

Measuring animal welfare in the UK 2007

For the third year running the RSPCA has produced its annual publication of indicators that assesses how the UK is performing with regard to the welfare of its animals. This collection of indicators highlights the diverse range of welfare issues that impact on the UK’s many different animals, and tracks where changes, both positive and negative, have been made. The five chapters focus on farm animals, pets, animals used in research and testing, and wildlife, and includes a generic section that concentrates on more indirect animal issues such as Corporate Social Responsibility, local government and social aspects. Each indicator sets the scene, and identifies welfare implications and the laws protecting those animals. They outline the information gathering and measurement techniques that have been used to provide data for each of the animal welfare issues and ultimately identify where improvements could or should be made. Whenever possible some of the issues incorporate data that has been collected over a number of years to see if trends are already developing. This year a lack of statistics was still a huge problem, with 15 per cent of all indicators in 2007 having insufficient or no data meaning that they cannot be measured. Another problem is that data is not always consistently collated and/or regularly published, hampering the meaningful analysis of information about a particular issue. Each of the issues has been measured to demonstrate where and how improvements are being made, to identify where no change is taking place or where and how areas of animal welfare are worsening. Improvements are noted in some areas, however this in itself does not mean that the welfare problems for these animals no longer exist. For all the animal issues highlighted in this report there is still considerable room for improvement, and it is also likely that the animal welfare issues not measured and included in the report will also need to be improved.

All of the chapters call for more regular, comprehensive, objective data collection and subsequent publication to ensure that animal welfare is properly measured and benchmarked. Once this is achieved a true picture can be established to identify how big a problem is, if indeed one even exists, and how solutions can be developed to ultimately improve the lives of animals in the UK. By identifying how the UK is performing with regard to its animals, it is hoped that everyone involved with the welfare of animals – from members of the public to those involved in making laws – will focus on areas where improvements are needed, will find appropriate solutions, will learn from and be encouraged by positive changes that are already being made and will recognise the UK as a world leader in animal welfare. The major stories highlighted in this year’s report include: I

a rise in reports of dog fighting

I

a huge decrease in imports of wild birds into the UK and EU

I

an increase in chickens reared under higher welfare conditions

I

a rise in the number of members of the public interested in improving animal welfare.

BY IDENTIFYING HOW THE UK IS PERFORMING WITH REGARD TO ITS ANIMALS, IT IS HOPED THAT EVERYONE INVOLVED WITH THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS – FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO THOSE INVOLVED IN MAKING LAWS – WILL FOCUS ON AREAS WHERE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NEEDED, WILL FIND APPROPRIATE SOLUTIONS, WILL LEARN FROM AND BE ENCOURAGED BY POSITIVE CHANGES THAT ARE ALREADY BEING MADE AND WILL RECOGNISE THE UK AS A WORLD LEADER IN ANIMAL WELFARE.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 5


The traffic lights

INDICATORS Generic indicators The proportion of FTSE 100 companies with animal welfare improvements in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies The number of relevant government advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) on which an animal welfare specialist is represented The proportion of people interested in improving animal welfare The proportion of schools that incorporate animal welfare into their curriculum The number of firework-related communications received by the RSPCA The number of stray dogs collected by local authorities in the UK The number of local authorities in the UK that have an animal welfare charter The number of relevant white papers published by the UK government that include a positive animal welfare component The number of investigations and convictions taken by the RSPCA under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006

Farm animal indicators The number of animals transported live from the UK for slaughter and further fattening The production of UK non-cage eggs as a proportion of total eggs produced The number of chickens reared to higher on-farm welfare standards Piglet mortality levels between birth and weaning The number, nature and outcomes of Animal Health inspections of farms and livestock markets

Pet animal indicators The number of unwanted healthy animals taken into the care of the RSPCA The number of non-microchipped cats and dogs taken into RSPCA care The number of healthy dogs being euthanased by the RSPCA due to irresponsible pet ownership The number of organised animal fights in the UK The number of animal welfare complaints investigated by RSPCA inspectors

Research animal indicators The number of non-human primates used in scientific procedures in the UK The amount of laboratory animal suffering The proportion of non-animal methods in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) test guidelines The number of animals used in quality-control tests for release of veterinary vaccines in the UK The percentage of scientific journals with ethical policies and guidelines relating to the use of animals in research and testing

Wildlife indicators The number of stranded cetaceans by-caught around the UK The number of wild-caught reptiles as a proportion of the total trade in live CITES-listed reptiles imported into the UK The total number of live, wild-caught CITES-listed reptiles imported into the UK The number of wild-caught reptiles as a proportion of the total trade in live CITES-listed reptiles imported into the EU The total number of live, wild-caught CITES-listed reptiles imported into the EU The total number of live, wild-caught CITES-listed birds imported into the UK The total number of live, wild-caught CITES-listed birds imported into the EU The provision of quality written information for the sale of non-domestic pets (reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals) in a sample of outlets The proportion of fishing tackle-related swan incidents recorded by the RSPCA

6 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


TRAFFIC LIGHTS

TRAFFIC LIGHT AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

GREEN

There has been an increase in the proportion of people interested in improving animal welfare

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

GREEN

The relevant white paper included a positive animal welfare component

GREY

Further annual data are required

AMBER

There was an overall fall in the number of live animals transported from the UK in 2007, but live calf exports increased

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

GREEN

There is a large increase in the number of chickens reared to higher welfare standards

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

RED

The number of healthy dogs being euthanased has increased

RED

There has been an increase in reports and convictions for animal fighting

GREY

Further annual data are required

AMBER GREY AMBER

There is little change from the previous year Insufficient data are available There is little change from the previous year

GREY

Insufficient data are available

GREY

Insufficient data are available

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

RED AMBER RED

There has been an increase in the number of reptiles imported into the UK There is little change from the previous year There has been a slight increase in the number of reptiles imported into the EU

GREEN

The trade has virtually ceased

GREEN

There is a very large decrease in the number of birds imported into the EU; the trade has virtually ceased

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

AMBER

There is little change from the previous year

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 7


Introduction

The welfare state: measuring animal welfare in the UK 2007 brings together a collection of indicators that aim to establish how the UK is faring with regards to its animals. Each of the indicators demonstrate how animal welfare issues can or should be objectively measured and encourage others to either begin measuring, or to continue collating and publishing information. Without knowing what is really happening in the UK, problems cannot be addressed, solutions cannot be found and positive learnings cannot be replicated. As with previous editions of this report, this third edition utilises the most up-to-date information available, celebrates the year’s progress, identifies the areas of animal welfare that have remained unchanged and highlights the areas where the situation has got worse. It acknowledges that measuring animal welfare is a challenge and that the process of data collection, accumulation of information and the development of robust and objective methodologies is not a simple process.

The animal welfare indicators The indicators in this report allow a picture to be created of the state of animal welfare in the UK, which is not only important from an animal protection perspective, but is essential for informing government and stakeholder policies. It is envisaged that by tracking animal welfare year on year, this gauge will serve as a valuable guide to where legislation, government policy, industry practices, education, economics and social attitudes need to be addressed and changed for the better in the UK. The animal welfare issues facing the UK are numerous and diverse, so no index can include them all. However, the areas included in this report are viewed by the RSPCA as being of high animal welfare importance and provide a good representation from across the spectrum. The generic indicators cover a wide range of issues such as consumer buying patterns, awareness of welfare issues, and government and corporate activity – all of which have less of an obvious impact on the welfare of animals. The majority of indicators

8 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

in this report focus on direct animal welfare issues and these issues are divided into sections on farm animals, pets, animals used in research and testing and wild animals.

Data collection The report brings together many different methods of data collection and research techniques. Each indicator issue has been looked at individually and the most appropriate methodology put into practice. Just as each animal welfare issue is unique, the measurement of that issue must also be unique. A variety of primary and secondary data has been utilised in the following ways: I

journal and literature reviews

I

use of the Freedom of Information Act 2000

I

opinion polls

I

UK government and European Union statistics

I

online research

I

questionnaires

I

parliamentary questions.

However, there are limitations to research and data collection. As with previous editions of this report, this edition highlights areas where further research is required, where more information needs to be made public and where, in some instances, data needs to be collated regularly in a consistent manner. A lack of statistics is still a huge problem; in 2007 five indicators could not be measured as there was insufficient or no data available.


INTRODUCTION

Traffic lights

The future

To broadly represent the progress of the indicators year on year, traffic lights are awarded to each issue. These signify the areas that are improving, standing still or getting worse. A green light signifies a degree of improvement only. It does not mean that there are no animal welfare problems associated with the particular issue and therefore no further improvements are required or could be made; it simply means for that particular animal welfare issue progress has been made during that year.

It is accepted that changes in animal welfare may not happen overnight, within a single year or even within five years. However, if improvements are to be made to the lives of millions of animals in the UK, and subsequently the rest of the world, animal welfare must be measured and benchmarked with a view to use this knowledge to make such improvements.

Red – animal welfare in this area has worsened. Amber – the animal welfare issue remains unchanged or there is little change from the previous year. Green – animal welfare in this area has improved. Grey – insufficient data are available or further data are required.

The RSPCA would like to see the measuring of animal welfare become normal practice. It would like animal welfare to be viewed as an issue that everyone understands, for it to be seen as important for society as well as the individual, and as something that we all have an impact on. Ten years ago climate change, carbon footprints and global warming were unfamiliar terms, but today they are part of everyday language and have become the norm. Very few people in the UK would be unaware how to make positive changes to the environment they live in. It is hoped that a similar shift will occur for animal welfare, as we all impact on animals and can all make a positive contribution to their lives and well-being.

THE RSPCA WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE MEASURING OF ANIMAL WELFARE BECOME NORMAL PRACTICE. IT WOULD LIKE ANIMAL WELFARE TO BE VIEWED AS AN ISSUE THAT EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS, FOR IT TO BE SEEN AS IMPORTANT FOR SOCIETY AS WELL AS THE INDIVIDUAL, AND AS SOMETHING THAT WE ALL HAVE AN IMPACT ON.

Traffic light

Definition

2005

2006

2007

RED

Animal welfare has worsened

6

2

4

AMBER

Negligible or no change

9

16

19

GREEN

Animal welfare has improved

6

6

5

GREY

Insufficient or no data

10

11

5

31

35

33

TOTAL

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 9


PIC CREDITS: ANDREW FORSYTH (X3), TIM SAMBROOK/RSPCA PHOTOLIBRARY, JANE COOPER

10 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


INTRODUCTION GENERIC INDICATORS

Directly and indirectly the welfare of animals affects and is impacted on by everyone in society. This could be in the form of an obvious impact resulting from the food we eat and the pets we have in our homes, or a more subtle impact such as the litter we drop or the cosmetics we use. The impacts could be even less apparent – the jobs we do, the leisure activities we participate in or where we purchase our pets. However tenuous the cause and effect, everyone makes a positive or negative contribution to the lives of animals. In 2007, a number of animal welfare issues were reported in the UK media. Whether quirky, serious, cute or shocking, these reports highlighted both positive developments for animals and cause for concern and disappointment. The following list is a short selection of animal welfare issues that received some level of media attention in 2007. ■ Two of the most significant pieces of legislation to affect the welfare of animals in the UK came into force: The Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales (April and March respectively) and The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. The legislation means that animal owners now have a legal responsibility to meet the welfare needs of their animals1. ■ The law banning the docking of dogs’ tails for cosmetic purposes came into force in England2 and Wales3. In Scotland, all tail docking of dogs (unless for medical reasons) became illegal4. The first RSPCA prosecution for the offence was taken under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in Wales in June 20075. ■ In January the tanker MSC Napoli ran aground in South Devon. RSPCA staff rescued more than 1,000 oil-covered seabirds6. ■ Revised EU legislation on the protection of animals during transport came into effect in January 20077. ■ Major flooding in parts of the UK saw around onethird of the RSPCA’s field staff work alongside the emergency services in rescuing both owners and their animals8. ■ A ruling concerning the mandatory use of cushioned whips in flat horse races was introduced9.

■ The Council of Europe adopted new guidelines for the housing and care of animals used in laboratories10. ■ A review of the schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 took place. Many species were removed from the schedule, including emus, squirrel monkeys and raccoons11. ■ Five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson was killed by an illegally owned pit bull-type dog12. ■ The UK’s first pit bull amnesty took place in Northern Ireland13. ■ A ban on the importation of wild birds into the EU was enacted14. News headlines and anecdotal evidence can provide a selective overview of what is happening in the UK with regard to some aspects of animal welfare. Whilst not exhaustive, this can help form part of the picture in identifying what is happening to the millions of animals in the UK that are farmed, live as pets, used for research purposes and exist in the wild.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

12 13 14

Section 9, Animal Welfare Act 2006. www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/act/docking.htm http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/animalwelfare/ Companiondomesticanimalwelfare/taildocking/?lang=en www.scotland.gov.uk/news/releases/2007/02/07102500 www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/07/30/rspca-report-shock-rise-in-animalcruelty-cases-91466-21428669/ www.bbc.co.uk/devon/content/articles/2007/07/16/napoli_timeline_feature.shtml www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/farmed/transport/eu-transportreg.htm www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/content/articles/2007/07/23/flood_help_feature.shtml The Horseracing Regulatory Authority. Modification of ‘The orders and rules of racing’ H8 whips – specifications (rule 149(ii)). www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-operation/biological_safety,_use_of_animals /laboratory_animals/Revision%20of%20Appendix%20A.asp#TopOfPage Defra information bulletin ‘Changes to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 – revision to Schedule of Controlled Species’. 1 October 2007. www.defra.gov.uk/news/2007/071001c.htm www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2007/09/05/killer-dog-jealous-of-ellielawrence-100252-19735795/ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6224009.stm Council Regulation (EC) No 318/2007.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 11


The proportion of FTSE 100 companies with animal welfare improvements in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)1 policies

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background 2

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the consideration of many aspects of a company’s performance and risks associated with issues such as employment, the environment, human rights, communities and business relationships. It is a way in which organisations can take more responsibility for how they impact on a variety of issues, is a measure of good business over and above compliance with minimum legal requirements, and goes beyond the more typical philanthropy of donating money to good causes. Animal welfare is not seen as or considered an integral part of CSR, yet many organisations, including those from the public, private and third sectors, have some impact on and involvement with animals and their welfare. The links to animal welfare could be obvious such as using animals when safety-testing chemicals used in industry or agriculture, or animals used in medical research or in the production of food. They could also be subtler, such as company food procurement policies or the destruction of animal habitats due to mining or construction, or the effect on animals by the pollution of water, land or air. The RSPCA believes that animal welfare must be a consideration when organisations, across all sectors, are developing and implementing policies and encourages the acknowledgement that animal welfare has a crossover with the more conventional aspects of CSR.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

12 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

In 2004, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said: “Today, Corporate Social Responsibility goes far beyond the old philanthropy of the past – donating money to good causes at the end of the financial year – and is instead an all-year-round responsibility that companies accept for the environment around them, for the best working practices, for their engagement in their local communities...”3. Four years later, CSR is an increasingly important part of business with an ever-growing number of companies implementing policies, producing reports and even devoting whole departments to ensure the company has effective and worthy CSR policies. The UK government has: “an ambitious vision for Corporate Social Responsibility”3 and would like: “to see UK businesses taking account of their economic, social and environmental impacts, and acting to address the key sustainable development challenges based on their core competencies wherever they operate – locally, regionally and internationally”. However, it is not just the UK government that is encouraging the ethos of CSR. The European Commission launched the European Alliance on CSR, describing it as: “An umbrella network for discussion and debate on new and existing CSR initiatives by large companies, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and their stakeholders4.” More recently, efforts have been made to encourage the voluntary sector to consider issues such as the environment and community and for them to become more accountable. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has funded ‘Every Action Counts’, a major initiative on social and environmental responsibility by community and voluntary groups5. Business in the Community (BITC)6 and FTSE4Good7 are two organisations that index and benchmark businesses on various aspects of CSR. The BITC is a business-led charity that is encouraging companies to have a more positive impact on society. BITC has developed the Corporate Responsibility Index, which is used as a benchmarking tool and covers four impact areas – community, environment, workplace and marketplace. The FTSE4Good Index Series measures the performance of FTSE companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards. The selection criteria focus on three areas – environment sustainability, stakeholder relations and human rights. As with the UK government and European Commission, neither the BITC nor FTSE4Good make any reference to or provision for animal welfare. Nor do they use it as the basis of indices for benchmarking even though many of the companies that are listed will have some link to the welfare of animals. This animal welfare indicator has been developed to identify


GENERIC INDICATORS

Figure 1: Triple bottom line CSR model and how animal welfare fits within it

Economic

Animal welfare

Environmental

Social

Data source: RSPCA.

which of the largest UK-registered companies that form the FTSE 1008 have a policy on animal welfare, and which are taking steps to improve, protect and promote animal welfare. Some of the FTSE companies, for example pharmaceutical, food and retail, seem more predisposed to having either a policy or an acknowledgement that

one is required, however all the companies could and possibly do have an impact on the welfare of animals. The RSPCA accepts that, for many reasons, animal welfare is perhaps not an obvious consideration when organisations are developing CSR policy and strategy, for example animal welfare is unlikely to be at the core of the business model. However the Society believes the incorporation of animal welfare into policy can not only benefit animals but also complement the social, economic and environmental aspects of CSR and, of course, add value to business and their bottom line. As this report itself highlights, measuring animal welfare objectively and successfully is challenging, however it should not be a barrier for organisations incorporating animal welfare into their CSR strategy. The RSPCA believes that animal welfare as a concept of CSR potentially fits in with environmental, economic and social impacts and has crossover with all three (using the triple bottom line model). Figure 1 simply demonstrates how animal welfare fits across all the CSR areas and could be considered alongside the better established areas of CSR. If animal welfare is to be viewed as a serious, measurable part of a company’s CSR strategy it is, of course, vital that there be some benefit for the business, beyond good public relations. Marks & Spencer and the National Trust are two very different organisations that have incorporated animal welfare into their business strategies. ‘Plan A’ from Marks & Spencer9 looks at a number of issues, including animal welfare. The National Trust10 launched its food policy in 2006 by stating that it wants to play a role in “connecting producers to

Table 1: Number of FTSE 100 companies8 that had an animal welfare component, February 2008 Category/type of company

Animal welfare reference

Aim to improve animal welfare

Chemical

1

0

Finance

1

0

Food retail

4

4

Health

3

2

Oil

1

1

Pharmaceutical

3

3

Retail

2

1

Services

1

0

Tobacco

1

0

Travel/Tourism

2

0

Data source: FTSE 100.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 13


consumers in the food chain”. One part of this is aiming to “procure food produced to high animal welfare standards”. This had led the Trust to make sure the 500,000 plus eggs it uses each year in its restaurants and tearooms are free-range. Subsequently, it has received awards for such efforts11. Both organisations have recognised the importance of CSR and have acknowledged the role of animal welfare within their business.

The indicator figures For the third year running, each of the FTSE 100 companies were contacted and a copy of their CSR or equivalent reports were requested along with any details of policy related to animal welfare. Of those that didn’t respond, reports and policies were obtained via websites. Initially, the literature and websites were used to identify whether the companies had a policy or made any reference to animal welfare or protection. The majority of FTSE 100 companies have some form of CSR policy and produce documentation about this area of their work – either in a report, annual review or via dedicated web pages. Some of the organisations have statements or policy concerning animal welfare, but these are separate from their overarching formal CSR policy. For example, an organisation might stipulate that it has an anti-fur policy or makes every effort to promote and implement the 3Rs12 but it has not formally incorporated them into its CSR work per se. This indicator has attempted to consider this and not disregard references to animal welfare just because they don’t form part of the organisation’s CSR policy. The policies are of varying

levels and differ greatly with regard to depth, content and reporting. Nineteen out of the 100 FTSE companies have some form of policy that concerns animal welfare, which is just one more than in 2007, but three more than in 2006. The companies specifically focus on two key aspects of animal welfare – animal experiments and farm animals. Of these 19 companies, just 11 aim to improve animal welfare. Table 1 identifies which category of company already has an animal welfare policy or statement, and which of these state an aim to improve animal welfare. The three pharmaceutical companies within the FTSE 100 that have a policy on animal testing and research state an aim to minimise animal use and ensure the humane treatment of those animals used. All of the food retail companies had a CSR policy or statement referring to farm animals. Of the remaining 81 FTSE 100 companies, some made a reference to animals, conservation and biodiversity, however there was nothing concrete in their policies to indicate any real commitment to acknowledging animal welfare and their responsibility to it as a business. While it is encouraging that nearly 20 per cent of FTSE 100 companies mention animal welfare it is equally disappointing that the number planning to make improvements has remained at 11 since 2006. There is still little sign of animal welfare being put forward as an important CSR issue by either the government or the business world. However, it is hoped that over time companies will begin to measure animal welfare and view it as an important issue within environmental, social and economic impacts.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

CSR comes under many guises and is also referred to as corporate responsibility, sustainability, corporate citizenship, and environment and social responsibility. 2 There is no universal definition of CSR, for the purpose of this report the UK government definition will be used. CSR is: “…the business contribution to our sustainable goals. Essentially it is about how business take account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates – maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides… specifically we see CSR as the voluntary actions that business can take, over and above compliance with minimum legal requirements…” 3 Department of Trade and Industry. Corporate Social Responsibility – a government update. 2004. www.csr.gov.uk 4 www.ec.europa.eu/enterprise/csr/policy.htm 5 www.everyactioncounts.org.uk 6 Business in the Community. www.bitc.org.uk 7 FTSE4Good. www.ftse.com 8 FTSE 100 companies identified as of February 2008. 9 www.marksandspencer.com 10 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-food_policy.pdf 11 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-global/w-news/w-news-further_news/w-newsgood_egg.htm 12 The 3Rs are the Replacement of animals with humane alternatives; a Reduction in numbers used; and Refinement of procedures and husbandry to reduce suffering and improve animal welfare.

14 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


GENERIC INDICATORS

The number of relevant government advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) on which an animal welfare specialist 1 is represented WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Government departments have a number of advisory NDPBs which are established by ministers, or by officials working on behalf of ministers, to: “provide independent expert advice or to provide input into the policy-making process” 2. Those appointed to the advisory NDPBs are independent of government and are drawn from outside the public sector. With regard to animal welfare, a number of advisory NDPBs exist to provide independent and expert advice on particular topics of interest, such as the former Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) and the Animal Procedures Committee (APC). The RSPCA believes that when issues affecting animals are being discussed by advisory NDPBs, with a view to developing policy and ultimately legislation that impacts on animals’ well-being, it is essential that independent animal welfare specialists are involved in such discussions and are represented on the relevant advisory NDPBs.

An NDPB is defined as: “a body which has a role in the processes of national government, but is not a government department or part of one, and which accordingly operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from ministers” 2. There are four types of NDPB, however it is the advisory NDPBs that can have a real impact on the welfare of animals and hence the focus of this indicator. In 2007, there were 4 4 1 advisory NDPBs in the UK that have been sponsored by UK government departments 3. Both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for a number of advisory NDBPs as demonstrated in Table 2. In Wales, Assembly Government Sponsored Bodies (AGSBs), which are similar to NDPBs, are funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. They have been included in Table 2. The number of advisory NDPBs that have links to animal health and/or welfare are also identified. This indicator has been constructed to identify who sits on which advisory NDPB in the UK. This will help to give an insight into whether animal welfare decisions and policy are developed with the assistance of necessary specialists. It would seem to be beneficial, if not expected, that an animal welfare specialist be appointed in a personal capacity (rather than representing an organisation) to sit on an advisory NDPB to contribute expert advice and input into the policy-making process about the welfare of animals. It is expected that certain government departments such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dardni) will have more NDPBs that concern the welfare of animals and therefore have more specialists in animal welfare. However, it is also expected that other government departments will have animal welfare specialists sitting on NDPBs that may either directly or indirectly impact on animals such as the Home Office or the Department for International Development (DFID).

The indicator figures

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

In the previous two years’ editions of this report, this indicator has focused on just the UK government and did not consider bodies created by the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the 2007 figures the three devolved governments have been included along with the national government. Parliamentary questions were tabled in the past to identify the animal welfare linked advisory NDPBs. They were targeted at just four government departments and didn’t consider the sub-national governments of the UK. To find out about advisory NDPBs in 2007, reports and information produced by the respective governments were utilised instead.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 15


Table 2: The number of advisory NDPBs/AGSBs by country in 2007 Country

Number of advisory NDPBs/AGSBs

Animal welfare link

Animal welfare specialist represented

UK Government 3

441

15

5

Northern Ireland Executive 4

16

0

N/A

Scottish Government 5

14

1

0

Welsh Assembly Government 6

14

0

N/A

Data source: UK Government, Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly Government.

Previously, the Secretary of State for each department – DFID, the Home Office, Defra and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly Dti) – was asked: “...which of his department’s advisory non-departmental public bodies are directly or indirectly connected with animal health and welfare; whether an animal welfare specialist is represented on each...” All four departments responded to the parliamentary question. The Home Office identified its one advisory body that is concerned with animal health and welfare – the APC 7. The following written statement was provided: “All members of the committee share a common concern for the welfare of animals used in scientific procedures, and in considering any matter must have regard both to legitimate requirements of science and industry and to the protection of animals against avoidable suffering and unnecessary use.” Current membership of the APC includes a member employed by the RSPCA and a member employed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF NDPB, HOWEVER IT IS THE ADVISORY NDPBs THAT CAN HAVE A REAL IMPACT ON THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS.

16 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

DFID acknowledged that it had supported a number of livestock initiatives: “…recognising that disease and poor animal welfare threaten the potentially important role that productive use of livestock can play in poverty reduction” 8. Other efforts by DFID include improving veterinary service delivery, developing vaccines, providing annual funding to support the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). In the past two years, the department has provided £30 million to support global efforts to control avian influenza. In response to a parliamentary question in 2006, Defra confirmed that it is: “…the department with the lead responsibility for animal health and welfare. Partnership working with animal owners, the farming industry and others is the heart of the approach set out in the government’s Animal Health and Welfare Strategy” 9. Its response highlights that the UK government very much sees animal welfare sitting in the folds of one department – Defra. While Defra is the only department that has the welfare and health of animals as part of its remit, other departments have an impact on animal welfare as demonstrated by looking at the advisory NDPBs. In 2007, 15 advisory NDPBs were identified across four UK government departments and one from the Scottish Government that had an animal welfare or/and health link (Table 2). Unsurprisingly, Defra had the most (12) animal health and welfare related advisory NDPBs, although the following four were the only ones to have an animal welfare specialist as a member: I

Animal Health & Welfare Strategy England Implementation Group

I

Farm Animal Welfare Council

I

Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB 10

I

Zoos Forum.


GENERIC INDICATORS

The Home Office has only one advisory NDPB, the APC, which has an animal welfare specialist, whereas the Food Standards Agency has no specialist on its Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs. The other two NDPBs that were likely to have an animal welfare specialist as a member were identified in Scotland and at the Ministry of Defence, however there was not enough data available to determine who was a member of each of the respective bodies. In particular, it is very much hoped that the Ministry of Defence’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee 1 1 has at least one animal welfare

specialist, as the purpose of the committee is: “…to review the care and welfare arrangements of animals used for defence research purposes in the UK”. It is encouraging that four Defra advisory NDPBs have at least one member that represents the welfare of animals. This has remained the same for the past two years. It is hoped that in years to come, more government departments encourage the membership of recognised animal welfare specialists on their advisory NDPBs.

IN 2007, 15 ADVISORY NDPBs WERE IDENTIFIED ACROSS FOUR UK GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND ONE FROM THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT THAT HAD AN ANIMAL WELFARE OR/AND HEALTH LINK.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

An animal welfare specialist is a person with the primary purpose of representing animal welfare (including both physical and behavioural aspects). This definition is for the purpose of this report. 2 Public bodies: A guide for departments. 2006. www.civilservice.gov.uk/documents/pdf/public_bodies/2006/overview.pdf 3 Public bodies 2007. Cabinet Office. www.civilservice.gov.uk/documents/pdf/public_bodies/public_bodies_2007.pdf 4 www.dfpni.gov.uk/public_bodies_2007.pdf 5 www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/public-bodies/advisory-ndpbs 6 www.assemblywales.org/04-019.pdf 7 HC Deb 6 February 2007 c.789W. 8 HC Deb 6 February 2007 c.766W. 9 HC Deb 9 May 2006 c.127W. 10 The ISG disbanded after producing its final report on bovine TB in 2007. 11 www.mod.uk/defenceinternet/aboutdefence/whatwedo/scienceandtechnology/AWAC

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 17


The proportion of people interested in improving animal welfare

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Members of the general public and consumers are very important, and most likely key, to ensuring that animal welfare evolves and improves. Contacting MPs (or Assembly members or members of the Scottish Parliament) about a particular animal welfare concern, or responding to government consultations on an animal issue, can have a direct influence on animal welfare laws. Consumer purchasing power can help influence supermarkets, farmers and restaurants, can change the way food is produced, and impacts on what products are sold. Awareness, understanding and support from the general public is required if improvements are to be made to the welfare of animals, whether they are animals farmed for food, pets or animals used in research and testing. If laws, behaviour, purchasing choices, and attitudes are to be changed positively and therefore improved, the RSPCA believes that animal welfare must be a familiar concept everyone understands and is engaged with.

The UK has legislation relating to all categories of animals: those farmed for food, those kept as domestic pets, animals used in research and testing, and wild animals living free or in captivity. Arguably, animal welfare laws in the UK are of the best in the world. There are also many animal protection/welfare organisations and individuals that work for and on behalf of animals in many different capacities including campaigning, hands-on work, fundraising and donating money. In this sense the UK is often viewed and referred to as a ‘nation of animal lovers’ and a world leader in the treatment of its animals. Of course the UK is not perfect and the mere fact that organisations such as the RSPCA, RSPB, The Dogs Trust and other animal organisations exist indicates the ongoing need for improvements to be made throughout the UK. As these organisations are primarily supported by the public and rely on financial contributions from those individuals who believe in their raison d’être, it could be assumed that there are many people wanting to improve animal welfare in the UK. However, in measurement terms this would be an unscientific presumption. Therefore, assessing the public’s attitudes to animal welfare is an important consideration when attempting to define how the UK is performing with regard to its animals, yet it is probably one of the hardest areas to gauge accurately. To try to measure public and social attitudes, the RSPCA commissions annual opinion polls in an attempt to find out how the general public views different aspects of animal welfare and whether there is any indication that they want improvements to be made. Polling is a well-established and commonly used tool for measuring the social attitudes and opinions of the general public on all manner of issues. It is recognised that such polls are often subjective, and whilst every attempt can be made to formulate questions in an unbiased and objective manner there is no way of preventing the public from lying or giving an answer they believe the questioner would like to hear. Polling questions do not delve into why certain responses are given or explain the reasoning behind the answers, and assumptions can only be made as to why someone has such a viewpoint. Even with these limitations in mind, opinion polls are still an extremely useful way to find out the attitudes and opinions of the general public. And with regard to animal welfare, they can be used as an important measuring tool to identify where changes and improvements need to be made and if more public educational work needs to take place.

THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN THE PROPORTION OF PEOPLE INTERESTED IN IMPROVING ANIMAL WELFARE.

18 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


GENERIC INDICATORS

The indicator figures The following questions are extracted from different RSPCA commissioned omnibus surveys 1 and provide a window into the views and thoughts of the public, their attitude to animal welfare and interest in improving it. This is the third year that two of the questions have been asked. A further two have been repeated from last year and one is being compared to data from 2006. All questions have been interpreted by the RSPCA.

To what extent do you agree or disagree that: “In order for society to be truly civilised, animal welfare must be a key priority”? 2 3 4 The question was developed to understand if the public thought that animal welfare was an important factor when considering the society that we live in. The question has been asked annually since 2006 and the results have changed significantly since then. In 2006, just over half (53 per cent) of the people questioned were in agreement with the statement, with about one-quarter (24 per cent) disagreeing. In 2007 nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of those questioned agreed with the statement with just nine per cent disagreeing. The latest survey commissioned in 2008, demonstrates that 80 per cent of people agreed that animal welfare should be a key priority with just seven per cent disagreeing with the statement. This is a very positive change and suggests that the majority view animal welfare as an important societal issue. The question has its flaws, as it is difficult to assess why in two years such a change has taken place or to pinpoint what has happened to encourage the general public to believe that animal welfare is such an important issue. It is hoped that the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, and the publicity surrounding them, has improved understanding and awareness of animals and the laws relating to animal welfare.

“Some people say that in addition to factors such as price and quality, there are ethical factors involved when buying different items. On this card is a list of factors which come under this ethical heading. Please tell me which two or three, if any, you personally think are the most important.” 2 3 4 In 2007, the eighth edition of The Ethical Consumerism Report 5 was published and identified that the amount of household expenditure on ethical goods and services had doubled over the past five years. It reports that the overall ethical market in the UK is worth £32.3 billion a year and grew between 2006 and 2007 by nine per cent. The question was asked in order to ascertain how the public rate

animal welfare when shopping for ethical goods, and if animal welfare is comparable to the ethical market in general. The following statements were provided: I

items are produced in an environmentally-friendly manner

I

items are produced without violation of human rights or exploitation of people in developing countries

I

items are produced in a way that minimises unnecessary suffering to animals

I

items are produced with fair trade issues in mind.

When the question was asked in 2007 nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents felt that minimising unnecessary animal suffering is important. In 2008, this figure rose by nine per cent (57 per cent). The most recent survey shows animal welfare as the most important consideration although this is only by two per cent. Also each of the issues rate higher than the previous year. It would be wrong to infer from the survey that the public believes animal welfare is more important than the environment or human rights. However, it would be fair to say that animal welfare is considered as important as the other ethical factors highlighted and that its importance reflects the overall growth in the sale of ethical goods.

“Did you learn about animal welfare at school?” 2 3 Animal welfare does not form part of the statutory elements of the national curriculum but it is included in a number of science and citizenship schemes. Within these schemes there are explicit references to the role of animals within our lives, and our responsibility to treat them and/or the environments within which they live with respect. The question was drafted to find out if there was any correlation between actually learning about animals and whether or not it is something that should be taught at school. The results for both years are almost identical with just 2 1 and 22 per cent of those questioned having learnt about animal welfare at school. As with the previous year, in 2008 the majority of those who said yes were in the 1 6–24 and 25–3 4 age ranges. When schools in the UK were asked if they taught animal welfare as part of the curriculum, 88 per cent of those confirmed that they taught at least one lesson of animal welfare 6 (see page 21). The school survey and the age of positive opinion poll responders suggest a number of explanations: perhaps animal welfare has been taught more often during the past 1 0 years, or maybe younger people can remember more about their school days because they are more recent. Even though a small number of respondents said yes when questioned, it is very positive that animal welfare is an issue that is at some level being taught in schools.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 19


IN 2006, 72 PER CENT AGREED THAT ANIMAL WELFARE IS AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION WHEN BUYING CHICKEN. IN 2008, THIS ROSE TO 79 PER CENT.

“How important, if at all, do you think that it is for animal welfare to be one of the things young people learn about at school?” 2 3 The above question was asked to find out how important the issue of animal welfare is and to understand if the public felt that formal education was the right arena to create awareness. In 2007, 84 per cent of those questioned responded positively to the poll and in 2008 this increased to 90 per cent of responders. The response to the poll is extremely encouraging as it suggests the public think teaching animal welfare is important and that school is the right vehicle for doing so. The results also complement the school survey (see page 21), which found that 88 per cent of schools were teaching at least one lesson of animal welfare6. It suggests that at a small level, schools are delivering and responding positively to public opinion.

figures. It suggests that the public have good intentions about the sort of chicken that they intend to buy, but due to labelling (lack of labelling or confusion about wording and/or images depicted), price (higher welfare chicken tends to be more expensive than standard chicken), difficulty in finding higher welfare products or lack of availability, shoppers do not always end up with the product they had planned to purchase.

How strongly do you agree or disagree that: “Animal welfare is an important consideration when I buy chicken”? 7 8 Every year about 850 million chickens are reared for their meat in the UK. With the sheer numbers of animals affected and the potential negative welfare implications, it is important to find out if the general public considers the welfare of chickens when they buy them. The questions were asked in 2006 and 2008 and formed part of a broader survey about chickens bred for meat. In 2006, 72 per cent agreed that animal welfare is an important consideration when buying chicken. In 2008, this rose to 79 per cent. A further question formed part of the survey and looked at the actual purchase of chicken and if higher welfare options, that is free-range, organic or Freedom Food, were bought. Interestingly in both 2006 and 2008, 70 per cent agreed or said they would buy the higher welfare chicken option. As with the first question about chicken, it is extremely encouraging that the public are thinking about the welfare of chickens and purchasing higher welfare options. However, as shown in another indicator (see page 48), 1 4.8 per cent of chickens produced in the UK are reared to higher welfare standards. In 2006, this figure was just three per cent. For both years there is quite a discrepancy between the opinion poll figures and the production

20 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

2 3 4

5 6 7 8

An omnibus survey is a method of quantitative market research where data on a wide variety of subjects is collected during the same interview – this can be carried out by phone, faceto-face or online. Usually, multiple research clients will provide proprietary content for the survey while sharing the common demographic data collected from each respondent. Ipsos MORI poll: Results based on interviews with 2,110 adults aged 15+ in Great Britain. Face-to-face interviews between 1–7 February 2008. Ipsos MORI poll: Results based on interviews with 1,936 adults aged 15+ in Great Britain. In-home, face-to-face interviews between 9–19 February 2007. Ipsos MORI poll: Results based on interviews with 2,028 adults aged 15+ in Great Britain. In-home, face-to-face interviews between 31 March and 6 April 2006. A split sample was used in 2006. The Co-operative Bank. The Ethical Consumerism Report 2007. Questionnaire sent to 6,400 schools, January 2008. TNS poll: Results based on interviews with 2,011 adults aged 16+ in Great Britain. Telephone interviews between 8–17 February 2008. TNS poll: Results based on interviews with 1,013 adults aged 16+ in Great Britain. Telephone interviews between 12–14 May 2006.


GENERIC INDICATORS

The proportion of schools that incorporate animal welfare into their curriculum

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Many animal welfare issues have implications for individuals, the communities within which they live and society as a whole. In order for young people to understand the role of animals within their lives and society, and make a positive contribution to their welfare, the RSPCA believes animal welfare education should be an integral part of children’s formal education. For the majority of young people in the UK this formal education takes place in a school environment. The basic requirements of what is taught in schools are defined by the curriculum. In all four countries of the UK the curriculum includes a few explicit references to the role of animals within our lives and our responsibility to treat them and/or the environments within which they live with respect. The RSPCA believes there are many more opportunities to use animal welfare as a focus or context for the delivery of the curriculum and would like to see all schools using them.

The bodies responsible for education and the curriculum in all four UK countries describe their vision for education and communicate their purpose on dedicated websites and in published documents. Each country makes reference to the role of education in preparing young people to participate in society and make a positive contribution to the communities within which they live. The Learning and Development section of the Welsh Assembly Government 1 suggests that young people are entitled to: “…be able to learn about things that interest you and affect you”, and “...be involved in volunteering and be active in your community”. England’s Qualifications and Curriculum Authority’s working draft of ‘A big picture of the curriculum’ 2, highlights three curriculum aims, one of which is to enable young people to become: “responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to civic society”. One of its accountability measures is: “to secure civic participation”. Northern Ireland’s Strategic Plan for Education 3 states one of its aims as: “To foster the personal development of young people, including an understanding of their rights and responsibilities within society”. One of its desired outcomes is: “…young people with the self-esteem to be confident, happy and ambitious and contribute positively to their local community and wider society.” Scotland has five goals in its Lifelong Learning Strategy 4, including: “A Scotland where people have the confidence, enterprise, knowledge, creativity and skills they need to participate in economic, social and civic life”. If children and young people are to understand the role of animals within their communities and society, and make a positive contribution to their welfare, they need to experience animal welfare education at regular intervals during their school years. Positive behaviour towards animals requires an understanding of their needs and an appreciation of the responsibility that humans have for them. A number of laws exist that protect and promote the welfare of animals. The RSPCA believes that children and young people should explore why these were created and how they relate to their own lives. Throughout their lives children and young people will be required to make everyday decisions that can affect the lives of animals such as the food they consume and the cosmetics they use. It is important that young people make these decisions with a thorough understanding of the issues involved and the implications of the different choices they may make. Finally, the welfare of animals is promoted by a number of different voluntary and non-governmental organisations, many of which operate within the local community. It is beneficial for young people to understand the purpose of these organisations, how they contribute to society and how they can support their work.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 21


IF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ARE TO UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF ANIMALS WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND SOCIETY, AND MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THEIR WELFARE, THEY NEED TO EXPERIENCE ANIMAL WELFARE EDUCATION AT REGULAR INTERVALS DURING THEIR SCHOOL YEARS. To find out more about the frequency and context of animal welfare education in schools, a questionnaire was sent to a representative sample (20 per cent) of primary and secondary schools 5 in the UK. This was twice as many as the previous year, where 10 per cent (3,200) of schools in the UK were sent a questionnaire.

The indicator figures The questionnaire was sent to 6,400 schools in the UK and resulted in a five per cent response rate – only 322 schools completed the survey. The response rate, although marginally better than the previous year (just four per cent of schools responded), is extremely disappointing. Of those schools that responded, 86 per cent were primary schools and 1 4 per cent were secondary schools. Seventy-one per cent of these responses were from schools in England although

this was not unexpected as England has around four times as many schools as the other countries combined. The questionnaire consisted of four questions, which would provide a ‘snapshot’ of animal welfare education in the UK today.

“By the time a pupil leaves your school how many lessons will they have experienced that used animal welfare as either a focus or context for delivering the national curriculum?” A significant number of schools in the UK (88 per cent) are providing at least one lesson about animal welfare. This is an increase of 1 1 per cent from last year, however 1 2 per cent of schools are failing to provide any lessons about animal welfare. Figure 2 illustrates the difference between the number of lessons

Figure 2: Number of lessons provided by primary and secondary schools on animal welfare, 2007–2008 40%

Primary Secondary

35%

Percentage of schools

30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

2007 2008 No lessons

2007 2008 1–2 lessons

Data source: Education Direct.

22 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

2007 2008 3–6 lessons

2007 2008 7–10 lessons

2007 2008 More than 10


GENERIC INDICATORS

Figure 3: Ages at which young people experience animal welfare education at school, 2008

Number of schools providing animal welfare lessons

15

12

9

6

3

0

Birth to 3 years

4–5

5–6

6–7

7–8

8–9

Data source: Education Direct.

provided by primary schools and those provided by secondary schools in 2007 and 2008. The number of primary schools providing at least one lesson about animal welfare has increased from 87 per cent in 2007 to 90 per cent in 2008, but unfortunately the number of secondary schools providing at least one lesson about animal welfare has actually decreased from 84 per cent in 2007 to 79 per cent in 2008. However those secondary schools that are providing animal welfare education, are more likely to provide a greater number of lessons than they were in 2007 (most secondary schools provided one to two lessons in 2007, in 2008 they provided three to six lessons). By way of contrast the number of lessons provided in primary schools has reduced, with more schools likely to provide three to six lessons and less likely to provide seven or more lessons than they were in 2007.

9–10

10-1 1

1 1–12

12–13

13–14

14–15

15–16

“Please explain why you don’t use animal welfare as either a focus or context for delivering the national curriculum” Only the schools that don’t provide lessons about animal welfare answered this question. Schools were able to provide more than one reason to why animal welfare was not either a focus or context for delivering the curriculum. The main reason given by schools in England, Wales and Scotland was lack of curriculum time, accounting for 47 per cent, 67 per cent and 47 per cent of the responses respectively. Only two responses were recorded by schools from Northern Ireland and these were: “Don’t think it is important” and “Other”. Lack of animal welfare knowledge was felt to be an important factor by 26 per cent of the schools in Scotland and 1 1 per cent of the schools in Wales, whereas the second most popular reason (18 per cent) for schools in England was lack of curriculum resources. In 2007, 75 per cent of primary schools suggested that lack of curriculum time was the reason why animal welfare was not part of their curriculum, however in 2008 this reduced to 48 per cent, although this was still the most popular response. In 2008, more secondary schools recorded lack of curriculum time, increasing from 40 per cent to 45 per cent. Lack of animal welfare knowledge had increased significantly as a reason why primary schools are not delivering animal welfare; four per cent of schools recorded this

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 23


Figure 4. Subjects within which animal welfare education is taught, 2007–2008 60%

Primary Secondary

Percentage of schools

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

2007 2008 Science

2007 2008 English

2007

2008 RE

2007 2008 Geography

2007 2008 PSE/Citizenship

2007 2008 Other

Data source: Education Direct.

as a reason in 2007, 1 8 per cent in 2008. By way of contrast, lack of curriculum resources has become less of an issue for secondary schools, with a reduction from 40 per cent in 2007 to 1 5 per cent in 2008. The fact that 88 per cent of the schools that responded are able to provide at least one lesson on animal welfare suggests that time can be found within the curriculum and that perhaps this is more an issue of perception rather than reality. Lack of curriculum resources and or knowledge should not be a barrier to providing animal welfare education as the majority of animal welfare organisations provide curriculum-linked resources, and some provide teacher training on how to incorporate animal welfare as part of the curriculum.

24 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

“In what year group(s) is animal welfare part of your curriculum work?” As Figure 3 demonstrates, children and young people may experience animal welfare education at any point during their school careers. However, this is more likely to occur between the ages of four and 11 in England, between birth and 11 years in Wales, and between five and 12 years in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Overall the pattern of these results reflects those from last year, mirroring the age at which young people leave primary school and start secondary school in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland young people transfer to secondary school in their twelfth year, however a significant number of secondary schools continue to offer animal welfare education during this first year. Animal welfare education is equally important whatever the age of young people and should be taught as a progressive set of skills, knowledge and attitudes. Some secondary schools are demonstrating this commitment and it is important that other schools do the same.


GENERIC INDICATORS

“In what subject(s) is animal welfare part of your school’s curriculum work?” Although animal welfare education is taught in a number of different subject areas, Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) and Science are the most popular subject areas overall. Science has become more popular for animal welfare education in secondary schools than last year, with a corresponding reduction in the amount of animal welfare education taught as part of the PSHCE curriculum. Figure 4 illustrates the subjects that schools (primary and secondary) taught animal welfare in as part of their curriculum work. This provides useful information indicating which areas of the curriculum provide openings for animal welfare education and should enable those schools that don’t provide any lessons on animal

welfare, or only provide a few, with pointers as to where to begin. Many animal welfare organisations already produce curriculum resources that support these areas of the curriculum. It is extremely disappointing that such a small number of schools chose to respond to the questionnaire. Without information and data from more schools it is difficult to know whether this is a true representation of animal welfare education within the UK. It is hoped that in future years more schools will respond to the questionnaire so a clearer picture is provided. From the little knowledge we have, thanks to those schools that took part in the survey, it seems it can only be of benefit that children are learning about some aspects of animal welfare during their formal education. It is hoped that more time is spent on the issue in the future.

FROM THE LITTLE KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE, THANKS TO THOSE SCHOOLS THAT TOOK PART IN THE SURVEY, IT SEEMS IT CAN ONLY BE OF BENEFIT THAT CHILDREN ARE LEARNING ABOUT SOME ASPECTS OF ANIMAL WELFARE DURING THEIR FORMAL EDUCATION.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5

Welsh Assembly Government website: www.new.wales.gov.uk A big picture of the curriculum (working draft). July 2007. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Strategic Plan for Education April 2006–March 2008 Northern Ireland. The Lifelong Learning Strategy for Scotland published 2003. For the purpose of the survey, primary schools have been defined as those schools that children attend between the ages of three and 11; secondary schools have been defined as those schools that children attend between the ages of 12 and 16.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 25


The number of firework-related communications received by the RSPCA

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Fireworks are a universal symbol of celebration used for various cultural and religious events worldwide primarily for aesthetic effect and entertainment purposes. In the UK fireworks are traditionally associated with Bonfire Night, but are also used throughout the year at weddings, concerts and festivals. Whilst fireworks can create a spectacular backdrop to events and occasions, there is a chance that animals can suffer as a consequence of the noise created by them especially as animals’ hearing is far more sensitive than humans and loud noises can distress them 1. The RSPCA is concerned for the welfare of animals affected by stress and anxiety caused by loud fireworks and is encouraging a more responsible attitude to their use.

The charity Environmental Protection UK 2 recognises that: “While adding excitement to occasions, fireworks can also frighten and disturb people and animals.” Its website (as well as others, including local authority sites) details the laws relating to fireworks: when they can be used, who can buy them, and what to do if you want to make a complaint about the noise of fireworks. Most animal organisations produce information and advice about keeping animals safe when fireworks are going off, as it is increasingly recognised that fireworks can be a cause of great anxiety to animals. A poll commissioned in 2007 by the RSPCA showed that of the 4 4 per cent questioned who owned a pet, 57 per cent said their animals were frightened of fireworks 3 and more animal owners are looking for advice from their vet, animal charities or relevant websites on how to alleviate the suffering their animals endure. The Firework Regulations 2004 set the maximum noise limit for fireworks sold to the public and prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from possessing fireworks in a public place and using them at night. The current noise limit for fireworks for use by the public is set at 1 20 decibels (dBAI). A noise survey commissioned by the RSPCA proved this to be the equivalent noise to a jet aircraft taking off. The RSPCA would like to see the noise limit lowered to 97 dBAI, which is equivalent to a car door slamming shut1, as this could help reduce the stress suffered by animals. The legislation has applied a curfew to the use of fireworks for private use. It prohibits the use of fireworks at night and states that no fireworks are to be used between the hours of 1 1pm–7am except during Bonfire Night (up to midnight), Diwali and Chinese New Year (up to 1am). Although a curfew may help, it is difficult to see how this will reduce the stress caused to animals, as they cannot tell the difference between a firework going off at 10.45pm and 1 1.05pm. Furthermore it is virtually impossible for authorities to detect where a firework has been fired from and who was responsible, making it difficult to enforce and police the curfew. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 4, local authorities have powers to prevent or abate noise nuisance from premises and land. Local authority environmental health officers have to judge whether a problem complained about might be considered a statutory nuisance and act accordingly. Complaints about fireworks and other noise problems should be reported to local authorities, but currently there are no centrally-held records of the number of firework-related noise complaints received5 and therefore it is difficult to judge the number of people complaining. In a recent poll 58 per cent of people did not know whom they should contact if they had a complaint about noise. Of those that knew who to call, 75 per cent believed

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

26 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


GENERIC INDICATORS

they had to contact the police to complain about firework noise and only 22 per cent correctly said they would complain to their local authority 3. This demonstrates that there is still confusion about who to contact and the RSPCA believes local authorities should make it clearer who members of the public need to complain to and record the number of complaints they receive. The RSPCA encourages members of the public, regardless of whether they are pet owners or not, to act responsibly towards animals when fireworks are being used. This is done by:

Figure 5: Animals seen by vets due to fireworks-related incidents, 2005–2006 3,500

2,500

encouraging people to attend public firework displays rather than hold their own

2,000

I

encouraging local authorities to publicise events well in advance of a fireworks display and informing residents that live near to the event

1,500

I

encouraging the purchase of lower-noise fireworks and informing neighbours about displays so provisions can be made for pets.

1,000 500 0

Cats

Dogs

Horses Small animals Wildlife

Data source: RSPCA.

Figure 6: The number of firework complaints and advice calls received by the RSPCA, 2003–2007

The indicator figures During the firework season, the RSPCA, other animal organisations, local authorities and the police will receive complaints about fireworks, including those that involve animals. This indicator focuses solely on the communication received by the RSPCA from the public concerning animals and fireworks, because obtaining information from other sources is currently not possible. In 2005 and 2006, the RSPCA contacted nearly 3,000 vets in England and Wales to ascertain how many animals they had seen that had been affected by fireworks. Unfortunately, due to the questionnaire’s poor response rate a survey was not conducted in 2007. It is hoped that in future a new survey will be developed and more vets will choose to complete it. For the indicator to be representative and meaningful, the RSPCA would like to use a number of data sources rather than just its own. The results from previous years showed that the majority of animals that were seen by a vet due to stress caused by fireworks were dogs (Figure 5). One possible explanation is that dogs are most likely to show obvious signs of stress and anxiety, whereas it is more difficult to observe stress behaviours in cats or small animals such as rabbits and

2006

3,000

I

The RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations 6 7 provide the general public with information about how to minimise stress and anxiety to animals when fireworks are being used. However it is up to pet owners, users of fireworks, firework manufacturers and distributors to join forces and promote a more responsible attitude towards the use of fireworks and make people aware of the negative effect they have on animals.

2005

Advice

Complaint

600

500

400

300

200

100

0

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 27


guinea pigs. Trying to establish the impact fireworks have on wild animals and farm animals is especially hard, as there is little or no reporting on these issue. Therefore pets, mainly dogs, are the main focus for advice and literature. While it is acknowledged that fireworks can cause anxiety and stress to some animals, the RSPCA believes that it is important to find out how big the problem actually is and has looked at its own communications with the public regarding animals (usually pets) and fireworks. Every year, members of the public contact the RSPCA about fireworks, whether this is to seek advice, to request firework literature or to make a complaint. During the build up to Bonfire Night, the RSPCA receives an increased level of communications from the public. Complaints about the noise of fireworks going off in local areas are received and advice is requested on how to look after pets whilst fireworks are going off and how to find animals that have bolted from their owners. Figure 6 shows the complaints and advice calls received by the RSPCA’s National Control Centre over the last five years. In 2003, the RSPCA received fewer complaints and more calls asking for advice, however in recent years more complaint calls have been received. This could be because information on how to keep pets safe is now more readily available on the RSPCA website6 and other websites 8. During the fireworks season the RSPCA cruelty and advice line’s recorded message advises callers to look at the website for information about keeping pets safe. From June to December 2007, more than 10,000 visits were recorded to the RSPCA website’s firework pages. Pet owners are becoming more knowledgeable about the distress fireworks can cause to their animals, more aware of the preventative measures they can take to prevent their animals suffering and better informed about what to do if their animals become distressed. These changes mean that animal owners do not need to phone the RSPCA for advice. However the increase in the number of complaints received is harder to understand. Since 2003, complaints to the RSPCA have almost doubled. There was a slight decrease in calls in 2006, but they increased again in 2007. One reason for the increase could be that fireworks seem to be used more often, over a longer period of time and seem to be getting louder thus causing upset animal owners to contact the RSPCA. Each year the RSPCA sends firework posters and leaflets to about 6,500 UK veterinary practices, public libraries and local authorities in England and Wales. Table 3 shows the number of items of literature that were sent out from October to December 2007. The materials are also available to the general public and RSPCA branches across England and Wales. RSPCA branches

28 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Table 3: Firework communications sent and received by the RSPCA in 2007 Type of communication

Information sent to general public Phonecalls received

Information sent/received 6,898 300

Fireworks materials sent to RSPCA branches

18,000

Visits to RSPCA website fireworks pages

10,000

Text messages received

3,100

Data source: RSPCA.

ordered the most materials, which is not surprising as they have direct contact with the public and many hold events to promote the RSPCA’s fireworks campaign. In 2007 the RSPCA aired radio adverts the weekend before Bonfire Night advising people to contact the RSPCA for information on looking after pets. More than 3,000 people responded, which indicates that the public are eager for tips on how to alleviate the distress fireworks cause to animals. This indicator demonstrates that people are concerned about their pets’ welfare whilst fireworks are being set off, and are keen to receive information on how to alleviate the stress and suffering fireworks cause. It is difficult to compare these results with other organisations and charities, as there are no similar data easily available. It is hoped that in the future the RSPCA will be able to obtain adequate external data to identify how big the problem of noisy fireworks is for the UK’s animals.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8

Keep the noise down: Loud fireworks frighten animals. 2005. RSPCA. www.environmental-protection.org.uk/neighbourhood-nuisance/fireworks TNS poll: Results based on interviews with 1,015 adults aged 16+ in Great Britain. Telephone interviews between 7–9 December 2007. Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part III. Parliamentary question 2008 by Rob Marris. To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: “How many complaints about firework noise have been received by his department; and what statistics his department has collected on complaints regarding firework noise received by other public bodies in each month from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2007”. Mr Thomas replied: “Complaints about noise from fireworks are not collected and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost”. www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks www.bluecross.org.uk www.rospa.com/homesafety/advice/fireworks/index.htm


GENERIC INDICATORS

The number of stray dogs collected by local authorities in the UK

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

The RSPCA regularly receives calls about stray dogs even though the Society does not deal directly with the issue. In April 2008 section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (CNEA) was implemented. It transferred the responsibility for receiving stray dogs out of hours (generally accepted as outside the hours of 9am–5pm during weekdays and throughout the weekend) from the police to local authorities in England and Wales. Many local authorities fulfil their obligation to seize and detain stray dogs, others carry out additional proactive work such as microchipping, neutering and giving dog training advice either as independent councils or in partnership with animal welfare charities, colleges or other councils. This will not only potentially reduce stray dog numbers, but also tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour with dogs. The RSPCA is keen to promote the local authorities that are providing a good service as well as those that are being more proactive in educating owners. For this reason, in April 2008 the RSPCA launched its Community Animal Footprints scheme, an annual initiative that rewards and promotes good animal welfare practice by local authorities and housing providers – including a footprint for stray dog services. The RSPCA is encouraging local authorities, and in some cases assisting them, to implement more effective measures that could help reduce the number of stray dogs and increase the number of dogs returned to their owners.

Although there is no legislative definition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) defines a stray dog as “One that is in a public place, not under the charge of its keeper 1 ”. Under the Environmental Protection Act 19902 local authorities are given specific orders to appoint an officer to be responsible for: “Discharging the functions imposed or conferred by this section for dealing with stray dogs found in the area of the authority”. The Act also gives joint responsibility to police and local authorities for the receipt of strays, which in turn has sometimes created confusion in some authority areas about who is actually responsible for stray dogs. The CNEA was intended to resolve the confusion of joint responsibility by terminating police responsibility for stray dogs3 and passing sole responsibility for stray dogs to local authorities. It was agreed by Defra, following pressure from a number of local government and animal welfare organisations, that this could not be implemented until funding had been transferred from the police to local authorities. In November 2007, two years after the Act was passed, Defra announced the implementation date for the CNEA as 6 April 2008, along with the settlement of £4m to be divided up proportionately between local authorities in England and Wales (about £10,000 each). To monitor the problem of stray dogs in the UK, data was gathered from local authorities using an information request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The FOIA entitles anybody to ask a public authority for any recorded information they keep. A response must be made available within 20 working days from receipt of the request. The reason for using this method was to ensure that the survey produced a good response within the time parameters outlined in the FOIA, and therefore give the RSPCA a more accurate picture of the situation. The survey was sent to all 376 local authorities in England (354) and Wales (22), but unlike the survey carried out in 2006, the 32 local authorities of Scotland and 26 of Northern Ireland were also included. To ensure that there could not be any misinterpretation, those questions that concerned the collection and disposal of dogs in England and Wales were worded in line with the direction given in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. There are other methods of data collection that are used to determine how big the UK stray dog problem is in the UK. The essential difference between the RSPCA’s research on stray dogs compared to others is that it seeks to clarify which dogs are euthanased after the statutory seven-day period4 and which are euthanased on medical grounds.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 29


Table 4: Stray dogs recorded by local authorities in England and Wales, 2005–2007 Year

Number of strays

Returned to owner

Total euthanased

1 April 2005 – 31 March 2006

64,468

29,655

2,632

1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007

72,846

33,415

3,548

Data source: RSPCA.

The indicator figures The 304 UK local authorities (70 per cent) that responded to the survey covering the 2006–2007 period, reported they had collected 87,1 83 5 stray dogs. In England, around 70 per cent responded compared to 59 per cent of Welsh local authorities that completed the survey. Seventy five per cent and 65 per cent of Scottish and Northern Irish local authorities respectively responded. This response rate is disappointing. To gain a true insight into the stray problem in the UK all local authorities need to participate in the survey. Therefore, to compensate for this lack of information and to effectively compare year-on-year data, the stray dog figures have been projected to reflect a 100 per cent response rate. Table 4 demonstrates the difference between the number of strays recorded by local authorities in England and Wales over a two-year period. The number of dogs seized between 2006 and 2007 in England and Wales was 72,846 6 7, which is considerably higher than the 64,468 8 reported previously between 2005 and 2006 (Table 4). The number of dogs returned to their owners also rose comparatively with number of dogs being seized (11 per cent), unfortunately so did the total euthanasia figure. Between 2005 and 2006, the reported number of dogs euthanased in England and Wales was fairly low in comparison to the number of dogs that local authorities seized. A year later the numbers are still comparatively low however they have increased by around 900 (25 per cent). Table 4 shows that in England and Wales 4.8 per cent (3,5489) of all dogs seized were euthanased between 2006 and 2007 compared with four per cent (2,63210) between 2005 and 2006.

In 2006–2007, Scotland returned the most stray dogs out of all four UK countries (Figure 7), with 56 per cent of all dogs being reunited with their owners. Northern Ireland had the poorest return rate with just under one-third (29.7 per cent) of stray dogs being returned to their owners. It is clear from these figures that there is still an important role for both local authorities and animal welfare organisations to educate and assist the general public about being responsible dog owners. This includes the promotion of permanent dog identification (microchipping), and regular updating of associated information, as 50 per cent of dogs that stray in the UK are not returned to their owners. Information was also collected on the numbers of stray dogs given to members of the public and to rehoming establishments (Figure 7). Around one-third of all stray dogs were given to rehoming establishments in the UK with a further 10 per cent given to the public. Welsh local authorities gave more than half of all their strays to rehoming establishments with just five per cent going straight to the public. In Northern Ireland around one-quarter of all strays were given to the public with less than 10 per cent, the national average, going to rehoming establishments. Table 5 demonstrates the number of dogs that were euthanased by each country between 2006 and 2007. The total number of dogs euthanased each year is important to identify, however it is far more significant to identify the number of dogs being euthanased after the statutory seven-day period on non-medical grounds because the dogs are likely to be fit and healthy. Collectively England and Wales

THE RSPCA IS ENCOURAGING LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO IMPLEMENT MORE EFFECTIVE MEASURES THAT COULD HELP REDUCE THE NUMBER OF STRAY DOGS AND INCREASE THE NUMBER OF DOGS RETURNED TO THEIR OWNERS.

30 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


GENERIC INDICATORS

Figure 7: The percentage of stray dogs recorded by local authorities in the UK, 2006–2007 60

Returned to owner

Given to establishments for rehoming

Given to the public

Total euthanased

50

40

30

20

10

0

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

UK

Data source: RSPCA.

(4.8 per cent) has a lower euthansia rate when compared to the overall figure for the UK (6.6 per cent). Scotland recorded the lowest euthanasia percentage with 3.1 per cent. Northern Ireland was the highest with more than 20 per cent of strays being euthanased in 2007. These figures are slightly tainted by the fact that the majority of authorities in Northern Ireland, which had the largest percentage of euthanased dogs, were unable to provide information on the reason for euthanasia. For the period 2005–2006, 28 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales were unable to separate their data into dogs that were euthanased on health and medical grounds, and those that were euthanased after the statutory seven-day period. Where the data could be separated, 31.2 per cent of dogs were euthanased on medical grounds and 40.8 per cent after the seven-day period in

England and Wales. The figures a year later identified that about one-quarter of reported euthanasia in England and Wales could not be defined. There was a substantial reduction in the percentage of dogs being euthanased after the seven-day period with 28.8 per cent reported euthanased under this legislation, a reduction of 12 per cent. There was a sharp percentage rise of 16.2 per cent for the number of dogs being euthanased on health or medical grounds at 47.4 per cent. Anecdotally there appear to be more authorities claiming to have non-destruction policies. However, about one-third 11 of dogs in the UK are given to establishments at the end of the seven-day period (Figure 7). Whilst it is likely that many of the dogs will be rehomed, it is a sad reality that some will be euthanased or spend a lifetime in kennels.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 31


Table 5: The number of stray dogs reported to have been euthanased by UK local authorities, 2006–2007 Country

Euthanased on medical grounds

Euthanased on non-medical grounds

Euthanased (no explanation)

England

1,443

824

766

Wales

237

197

80

Scotland

20

71

80

Northern Ireland

826

0

1,775

2,526

1,092

2,701

UK Data source: RSPCA.

It should also be noted that 10 per cent or 8,732 dogs are given to members of the public by local authorities after the seven-day period, which demonstrates the commitment that many local authorities and their contracted kennels have made to reducing the prospects of dogs being euthanased. The implementation of section 68 of the CNEA in April 2008 is likely to put further pressure on local authorities with an increase in seized dogs and a resulting increase in the number that need to be reunited or rehomed. It is therefore important that animal welfare organisations and local authorities work closer on preventative measures to educate owners about the law, the importance of being a responsible owner and improving the chances of their dog being returned should it stray.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4

Defra website: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/localenv/dogs/strays.htm Environmental Protection Act 1990 s149 (1) and (3). Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 s68. Under Section 6 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 1990, a dog must be detained for seven days before it can be disposed of. 5 The actual number of stray dogs seized in the UK was 60,053. 6 The actual number of stray dogs seized in Wales was 6,631. This was from a response from 13 local authorities questioned, 2006–2007. 7 The actual number of stray dogs seized in England was 43,509. This was from a response from 250 local authorities questioned, 2006–2007. 8 The actual number of stray dogs seized in England and Wales was 48,523. This was from a response rate of 75 per cent, or 283 from 376 local authorities questioned, 2005–2006. 9 The actual number of dogs euthanased in England and Wales is 2,420, 2006–2007. 10 The actual number of dogs euthanased in England and Wales is 1,974, 2005–2006. 11 The actual number of stray dogs in the UK given to establishments is 20,387, 2006–2007.

32 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


GENERIC INDICATORS

The number of local authorities in the UK that have an animal welfare charter

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Local authorities in England and Wales are involved in a number of services that relate directly to animals, including stray dog collection and the licensing of pet shops, dog breeding establishments and kennelling facilities. There are other areas of public service delivery that have some impact, directly or indirectly, on animal welfare where the local authority may influence policy. These include areas such as housing provision, pest control and emergency planning. An animal welfare charter is a document that, in its most basic form, establishes some basic principles the local authority generally supports with relation to animal welfare. The implementation of a charter can encourage animals to be a consideration in all aspects of a local authority’s work and help to ensure that services have mechanisms in place to maintain and increase good standards of animal welfare. In April 2008, the RSPCA launched the Community Animal Footprints, a scheme to reward and promote good practice in animal welfare by local authorities and housing providers. It is hoped this scheme will encourage more local authorities to adopt animal friendly policies in areas that impact on animal welfare including introducing a charter. The RSPCA believes that all local authorities should adopt an animal welfare charter, so that the welfare of animals becomes a natural consideration within the authority’s decision making and policy process.

The passing of two pieces of major legislation, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 20051 (CNEA) and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA)2 in the last few years, has impacted on all tiers of local authorities in England and Wales with regard to services directly related to animals. Sections 55 and 56 of the CNEA give local authorities the power to issue dog control orders on any open spaces, including parks. The orders allow authorities to exclude dog access completely or exclude dogs not on leads, and increases fines for dog fouling. Section 68 removes any responsibility for stray dogs from the police, leaving local authorities with sole responsibility for them. Within the Animal Welfare Act 2006, local authorities are given powers of entry and enforcement that they may exercise to improve animal welfare, although there is no obligation for local authorities to use these powers. However, they also must ensure that those they license adhere to the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This means that the Act should impact on the licensing of pet shops and events that involve animals, as well as ensuring that kennelling facilities used for stray dogs meet the welfare needs of the dogs held there. Local authority animal welfare charters come in a variety of forms. Some are a collection of policy statements on various aspects of local authority work, others are a set of principles that the local authority aims to work to in all aspects of council business. The most effective animal welfare charters are those that cover both the principles and practical side and touch on areas of local authority work that may not be instantly linked with animal welfare e.g. social services and housing. However, in order for a welfare charter to be meaningful and effective it must be backed up by action. This in turn can create good public relation opportunities and link in with aspects of local authority work. For example, responsible pet ownership promotion could result in a reduction in problems such as stray dogs, fouling, barking and the use of dogs to intimidate others, all of which fit under the anti-social behaviour umbrella. The RSPCA believes that a robust and practical animal welfare charter would also go some way in assisting contractors, officers and managers that may not have a primary animal-related role to become more aware of the implications of their work on animal welfare. This animal welfare indicator was developed to monitor the number of local authorities that currently have animal welfare charters and those that are considering introducing a charter in the forthcoming year.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 33


Figure 8: Number of local authorities that have an animal welfare charter in England and Wales, 2007–2008

Figure 9: Number of local authorities that have an animal welfare charter in the UK, 2008

16%

Have an animal welfare charter 14% 12%

Considering introducing an animal welfare charter

16%

Have an animal welfare charter

14%

Considering introducing an animal welfare charter

12%

10%

10%

8%

8%

6%

6%

4%

4%

2%

2%

0

0 2007

2008

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

UK

Data source: RSPCA.

Data source: RSPCA.

The indicator figures

the AWA in England and Wales; and section 68 of the CNEA. Although many local authorities have not taken on additional powers of investigation under the AWA, it has clearly focused the minds of those that were already contemplating introducing an animal welfare charter. As can be seen in Figure 9, Wales and Northern Ireland’s figures are largely insignificant individually with no responding authority in either country claiming to have an animal welfare charter. Furthermore none of the authorities in Northern Ireland plans to introduce one. Statistically Scotland looks slightly better with 8.3 per cent of local authorities having a charter with the same amount considering introducing one. This is the first time the figures have been divided up by country. Given the 20 per cent increase in responses it is difficult to assess satisfactorily whether animal welfare is becoming a more significant part of local governments’ agendas. The signs are positive, but until next year’s statistics are produced it is difficult to conclude a trend.

An information request on animal welfare charters was sent to 376 local authorities in England and Wales3, and, for the first time, the request was also sent to 32 authorities in Scotland and 26 authorities in Northern Ireland. 2008 saw a 20 per cent rise in responses to the questions on animal welfare charters, rising from 50 per cent in 2007 to 70 per cent this year for England and Wales collectively 4. This is likely to be down to two factors. Firstly because the information request was included in a questionnaire about stray dogs, resulting in there being one questionnaire to complete, and secondly the number of questions sent were drastically reduced from 2007’s survey meaning the information was easier to collate. Only data collated from England and Wales can be compared to 2007, as this is the first year of data collection in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Figure 8 shows that twice as many local authorities have animal welfare charters in England and Wales. This has risen from 4.4 per cent to 8.4 per cent in the last twelve months. There was also a rise in the number of responding local authorities that were planning to implement an animal welfare charter (or were considering implementing one) in the next 12 months, from 7.4 per cent to 15.2 per cent. There are a number of potential reasons for this increase, the main one being that many of the 2008 responders did not reply to the 2007 survey, including some that had animal welfare charters. Two pieces of animal-related legislation may have been factors:

34 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. S55, 56, 68. Animal Welfare Act 2006. Unitary, metropolitan, London borough, district and Welsh unitary councils were surveyed. County councils were not included. The response rates in England and Wales were 70.6 per cent and 59 per cent.


GENERIC INDICATORS

The number of relevant white papers published by the UK government that include a positive animal welfare component

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

In the UK animal welfare is traditionally seen as an issue resting with one government department, namely the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, animal welfare rests with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for Rural Affairs, the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs and the Environment Department and the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development in Northern Ireland. Other UK ministries, such as the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, have a direct role in setting policies on animal welfare or managing issues that have an impact on animal welfare, but they are usually not automatically considered when the issue of animals and their health and/or welfare is raised. Ideally, all government departments in all UK countries would consider the current and future needs of animals and acknowledge the relationship of animals with other issues when developing policy and laws even if there is not an obvious animal welfare theme. The RSPCA would like the UK government and devolved governments to take a holistic approach to animal welfare, and advocates that all government departments give the issue due consideration when developing and implementing policy and legislation.

Alongside Defra, other major departments that set animal welfare policy include the Home Office (animals used in research and testing), and the Department for Communities and Local Government (urban regeneration). Other ministries have an indirect impact – such as the Department for International Development (DFID), which has an animal welfare policy that is considered for any overseas programmes, and the Ministry of Defence which runs the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) and is responsible for the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC). By looking at the UK government’s plans for future policy, an assessment can be made about how animal welfare is currently viewed and whether aspects of it are being considered and incorporated into future plans across different government departments. To gain some insight into current and future government thinking and actions about aspects of animal welfare, white papers1 (documents produced by government departments to outline details of future policy) are reviewed. Although white papers are just one step in the process of making government policy, they are useful indices in measuring how legislators view animals and their welfare. By looking at white papers, it is hoped that cross-departmental thinking on animal welfare will be evident and encouraged to occur in future years.

The indicator figures Between January 2004 and December 2007 2 3, 41 white papers were published by various government ministries. During 2007, 10 were published. None of the white papers published during this four-year period were specifically about animals or their welfare and just one was produced by Defra, the department with overall, recognised responsibility for animal welfare. However, it would seem likely that a number of the issues covered by the white papers would have some direct or indirect impact on animals even if it wasn’t initially obvious. The following questions were used to assess the white papers and to initially judge whether animals and/or their welfare would be included in the documents.

THE RELEVANT WHITE PAPER INCLUDED A POSITIVE ANIMAL WELFARE COMPONENT.

I

Does the title suggest that animals will be included in the white paper?

I

Does the foreword, preface or executive summary suggest that animal welfare will be incorporated into the document?

I

Does the government department producing the white paper have any direct or indirect links to animal health or welfare?

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 35


Table 6: White papers published 2004–2007 that could have included a positive animal welfare component Date

Department

Title

Animal welfare components

Country

April 2004

Home Office

One step ahead: A 21st century strategy

No

UK

Prospects for the EU in 20045

Yes

UK

Making globalisation a force for good6

No

UK

Foreign and

White paper on the Treaty establishing

Yes

UK

Commonwealth Office

a Constitution for Europe7

Home Office

Building communities, beating crime:

to defeat organised crime4 April 2004

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

July 2004

Department of Trade and Industry*

Sept 2004

Nov 2004

Yes

A better police service for the 21st century 8 Nov 2004

Department of Health

Choosing health: Making healthier

No

choices easier9 Feb 2005

Foreign and

England and Wales England and Wales

Prospects for the EU in 200510

Yes

UK

No

England

Commonwealth Office Feb 2005

Feb 2005

Office of the Deputy

Sustainable communities: People, places

Prime Minister**

and prosperity11

Department for

14–19 education and skills12

No

England

Department for

Strong and prosperous communities:

No

England

Communities and

The local government white paper13

No

UK

Yes

UK

Education and Skills*** Oct 2006

Local Government Dec 2006

Department of Health

Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act14

Mar 2007

Department for

A Sea Change15

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Data source: Weekly Information Bulletin3. * Now known as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. ** Now known as the Department for Communities and Local Government. *** Now known as the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

36 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


GENERIC INDICATORS

Each of the white papers was then read in detail with the following questions in mind. I

Is there any reference to animal welfare?

I

How in depth does the white paper go?

I

Is the detail provided adequate?

I

By the nature of the document, should animal welfare have been considered?

Of the 31 white papers published between 2004 and 2006, 11 white papers were initially identified as having the potential to incorporate an animal welfare element within them. Of the 10 published in 2007, just one was considered relevant. Table 6 lists the 12 white papers published between 2004 and 2007 that would be expected to consider animals and their welfare. The table highlights the government department that produced them so as to demonstrate the crossover of animal welfare within different areas of government policy.

I

A Sea Change: A Marine Bill White Paper15 16

It is perhaps not surprising that this Defra white paper refers to and considers animal welfare and conservation. The title clearly suggests that marine life would be mentioned. The white paper introduces: “…a new framework for the sea, based on marine planning, that balances conservation, energy and resource need.” A section of the paper outlines the vision for marine species protection. Whilst the paper focuses on wildlife and habitat protection rather than welfare it does refer to the other legislation already in place that is applicable to the marine area. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) identifies certain protected species including basking sharks, whales and porpoises. The Habitat Regulations 1994 protect species such as marine turtles and whales. The paper also acknowledges that the trade in protected species is restricted and that certain methods of killing or taking of certain species are prohibited. It is welcoming that Defra clearly considers animals throughout its white paper, and that in 2007 the result of this particular indicator is positive. It does need to be acknowledged that measuring cross-department thinking and policy year on year is difficult because the number of white papers published each year changes, with different departments producing documents. It is expected that only a small selection will need to mention animal welfare in any detail and therefore it is only fair to draw firm conclusions once information has been collected over a five-year period.

BY LOOKING AT THE UK GOVERNMENT’S PLANS FOR FUTURE POLICY, AN ASSESSMENT CAN BE MADE ABOUT HOW ANIMAL WELFARE IS CURRENTLY VIEWED AND WHETHER ASPECTS OF IT ARE BEING CONSIDERED AND INCORPORATED INTO FUTURE PLANS ACROSS DIFFERENT GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS. FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

White papers are produced by UK government departments, however they may not have an impact in all four UK countries. Weekly Information Bulletin. On: www.parliament.uk Office of public sector information website: www.opsi.gov.uk Command paper: CM6167. Command paper: CM6174. Command paper: CM6278. Command paper: CM6309. Command paper: CM6360. Command paper: CM6374. Command paper: CM6450. Command paper: CM6450. Command paper: CM6476. Command paper: CM6939. Command paper: CM6989. Command paper: CM7047. The whole of the UK is affected by this white paper.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 37


The number of investigations and convictions taken by the RSPCA under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

In 1822, England and Wales first enacted legislation specifically intended to prevent cruelty to animals with: “An Act to prevent the cruel and improper treatment of cattle”. This was one of the earliest laws on animal cruelty in the world and seems to refer to all livestock not just cattle. It was followed by the establishment of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1824 for the purpose of enforcing this new Act and promoting education on animal issues. The RSPCA, as it became known in 1840 and which remains today, established an inspectorate to enforce the animal welfare related legislation. Today there are about 330 RSPCA inspectors in England and Wales. The RSPCA investigates and prosecutes the majority of offences of animal cruelty and breaches of animal welfare in England and Wales1. As Richard Martin MP, a founding member of the RSPCA, said in 1822: “If legislation is to be effective, it must be adequately enforced”. Nearly two hundred years later, the importance of this quote is still very much at the heart of why the RSPCA prosecutes individuals under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (POAA) and its successor the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA). In an ideal world investigations into animal cruelty and breaches of animal welfare, and any subsequent convictions, wouldn’t be necessary because animals would not be suffering as a result of neglect or cruelty. Unfortunately, this is unlikely ever to be the case, so a more realistic aim is for the year-on-year reduction of the number of investigations and convictions, resulting in an overall increase in the standard of animal welfare.

Until 2007, the laws relating to animal cruelty were found in the Protection of Animals Act 1911. Section 1 (1)(a) of the Act made it an offence to cruelly beat, kick, ill-treat, torture, or terrify any domestic or captive animal, or wantonly or unreasonably to do or omit to do any act which causes such an animal unnecessary suffering. The AWA in England and Wales significantly updates this 96-year-old legislation and, most importantly, introduces a welfare offence 2. This imposes a duty on a person responsible for an animal to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of that animal are met to the extent required by good practice. For the purposes of the Act, an animal’s needs include its need for: a suitable environment; a suitable diet; to exhibit normal behaviour patterns; any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals; and to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. The offence of causing cruelty and unnecessary suffering in the 1911 Act has been updated in the AWA3. The RSPCA only takes prosecutions when the Code for Crown Prosecutors4 is met. The Society has a consistently high success rate with its prosecutions – in 2007, 97.2 per cent of the RSPCA’s prosecutions in England and Wales were successful. Although the RSPCA does take prosecutions using more than 30 pieces of animal legislation, the vast majority (more than 85 per cent) were taken under the 1911 Act and will now be taken under the AWA. Data on the numbers of convictions achieved by the RSPCA under Section 1 (1)(a) of the POAA and subsequently the AWA are therefore a useful indicator to assess trends in England and Wales.

FURTHER ANNUAL DATA ARE REQUIRED.

38 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

The indicator figures Each year, the RSPCA receives more than one million phone calls to its cruelty and advice line. The calls include animal cruelty incident reports, members of the public seeking advice and concerns about the welfare of animals in England and Wales. In 2007, 1,175,469 telephone calls were received – just over 5,000 more than the previous year. During the same period, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)5 received 105,522 phone calls and the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA)6 in Northern Ireland received more than 1,000 calls each week. Therefore in 2007 about 1.3 million phone calls concerning the welfare of animals in the UK were taken by just three organisations. Telephone calls made to the RSPCA lead to the majority of investigations the Society carries out each day. Figure 10 shows the number of cruelty complaints the RSPCA investigated between 2003 and 2007. The number of cruelty complaints that led to investigations was at its highest in 2007 and since 2003 the numbers have steadily


GENERIC INDICATORS

increased from 105,932 in 2003 to 137,245 in 2007, a rise of 29.5 per cent over five years. However, many of the phone calls received by the Society are from members of the public seeking advice and will therefore not lead to an investigation. Trying to explain this huge increase in cruelty complaints is difficult, as there are a number of factors that could encourage the public to call the RSPCA. The increase doesn’t simply mean that cruelty or neglect of animals is getting worse or that more animals in England and Wales are unnecessarily suffering – although this could be true. Complaints could be rising because the public are more aware of the telephone number and therefore know who to call if they see an incident that concerns them, or if they require advice about an animal welfare problem. Prior to the AWA coming into force, there were many public awareness campaigns and a lot of media information about the proposed changes in law and the need for animal protection laws to be strengthened. A series of RSPCA commissioned polls7 conducted between August 2006 and April 2007 demonstrated how in the months leading up to the implementation of the AWA in England and Wales (April and March 2007 respectively), knowledge of the change in law grew substantially. In August 2006, just 14 per cent of those questioned had heard about a change in the law, but when the same question was asked eight months later this awareness had grown to 57 per cent. This awareness of the law change or knowledge about animal welfare could have encouraged more people to contact the RSPCA with complaints. The number of convictions for animal cruelty under the POAA and the AWA is shown in Figure 11. As the AWA came into force in 2007, and as it takes time for cases to go to court and reach conclusions, conviction data still largely relates to the AWA’s predecessor, the POAA. In 2008, data for convictions under the AWA will provide a more complete picture. Since 2004 the number of convictions has changed year on year. In 2005 and 2007 the number of convictions were similar, but in 2004 and 2006 there were around 300 fewer convictions. To explain the reason why prosecutions and convictions rise or decrease each year is extremely difficult, so it would seem beneficial to analyse at least five years’ worth of figures to identify any real trends in conviction figures.

Figure 10: Cruelty complaints investigated, 2003–2007 140,000 135,000 130,000 125,000 120,000 115,000 110,000 105,000 100,000

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

Figure 11: Number of convictions and defendants convicted for offences under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006, 2004–2006 1,800

POAA

AWA

1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 0

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA. FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Some of the investigations and convictions are taken by other authorities but are assisted by the RSPCA. Animal Welfare Act 2006 s9. Animal Welfare Act 2006 s4. www.cps.gov.uk/victims_witnesses/code.html www.scottishspca.org www.uspca.co.uk Ipsos MORI poll: Results based on 1,011 telephone interviews conducted with adults aged 16+ in Great Britain from 13–15 April 2007; 1,007 telephone interviews conducted with adults aged 16+ in Great Britain from 9–10 December 2006; 1,005 telephone interviews conducted with adults aged 16+ in Great Britain from 17–18 November 2006; and 1,003 telephone interviews conducted with adults aged 16+ in Great Britain from 11–13 August 2006.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 39


PIC CREDITS: RSPCA, ANDREW FORSYTH/RSPCA PHOTOLIBRARY (X4)

40 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


INTRODUCTION FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

More than 900 million farm animals are reared for food in the UK every year. The numbers involved, and the wide range of species and welfare issues, makes ensuring acceptable quality of life for farmed livestock a challenging, complex task. Proper understanding of species-specific physical and behavioural needs, and ‘translation’ of that knowledge into appropriate farming practices, is essential if welfare is to be safeguarded. Similarly, appreciation of the current situation and of ‘trends’ in key welfare areas is necessary if efforts to improve livestock well-being are to be appropriately focused and effective. The need for reliable, objective, national data on key welfare-related issues is, therefore, self evident. Difficulties encountered by the RSPCA in finding such data when compiling the following section of this report underlines the continuing need – acknowledged in the government’s Animal Health and Welfare Strategy1 – to ensure that greater efforts are made to achieve this. During 2007, several significant events occurred in the area of livestock welfare. ■ In January, new EU-wide regulations on welfare during transport came into force2. Whilst the regulations introduced stricter provisions for horses and welfarefocused competency testing of livestock hauliers, in other ways the updated law fell far short of protecting animals. ■ In June, the EU adopted the first ever legislation covering meat chicken welfare3. The Directive will introduce common standards across Europe, and some elements will improve on typical industry practice in some countries. However, the RSPCA, which submitted evidence-based views to government during its deliberations on content, was disappointed with the outcome, which was wholly inadequate in addressing the serious welfare issues associated with rearing meat chickens. ■ EU egg marketing regulations4 were also updated during 2007. ■ Consumers lack of knowledge about livestock species was revealed in a survey commissioned by the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme5. Around 40 per cent of 1,297 respondents got more than half the questions

about farm animal wrong, one startling result being that 88 per cent didn’t think pigs were intelligent. As well as raising media interest in livestock, the survey highlighted the need to increase public understanding of farm animal production and welfare. ■ There were a number of governmental and other consultations on various farm animal welfare issues in 2007, to which the RSPCA submitted responses. Areas addressed included live transport6, game bird production7, chicken welfare8, farm animal mutilations9 and national livestock disease control planning and advice provision10. ■ Key reports issued by influential bodies in 2007 included two ‘opinions’ on laying hen welfare by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC)11. ■ The RSPCA was involved in minimising the effects on livestock welfare of an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease. As well as being directly involved in the government’s activities relating to overseeing disease control, the Society worked with the farming industry to set up a telephone helpline to assist farmers and their animals affected by the emergency ban on livestock movements.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain, Defra 2004. Council regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1255/97. 3 Council directive 2007/43/EC of the 28 June 2007 laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production. 4 Council regulation (EC) No 557/2007 laying down detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 1028/2006 on marketing standards for eggs. 5 ‘Survey reveals pig ignorance’ – RSPCA Freedom Food press release 24 September 2007. 6 ABM/ABP Livestock Transport Standards. 7 FAWC Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Gamebirds (in GB). 8 AFS/Assured Chicken Production Stakeholder Consultation Scheme Standards 2008–2009. 9 The Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) (Amendment) Regulations. 10 Foot-and-Mouth Disease – Defra Advice to Farmers Fact Sheets 1–3. 11 FAWC Opinion on Beak Trimming in Laying Hens, and FAWC Opinion on Enriched Cages for Laying Hens, November 2007. The RSPCA had concerns about the views expressed in the reports on the welfare of hens in enriched cages, and on beak trimming of laying hens, and contacted the FAWC to put forward our evidence-based views, and to request clarification of the reasons for the FAWC’s position.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 41


The number of animals transported live from the UK for slaughter and further fattening

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

The transport of live farm animals from the UK to other countries for slaughter or further fattening is a process that is both unnecessary and fraught with risk to animal health and welfare. The RSPCA advocates that all animals should be slaughtered as close as possible to where they are reared, with the frequency, duration and complexity of any travel minimised, and the quality of the transport process as a whole optimised. Live transport from the UK for slaughter or further fattening fails to satisfy these criteria. Firstly, the travel is essentially unnecessary, as animals could be fattened and slaughtered in the UK and their meat exported instead. In addition, exported animals are taken on potentially long and complex journeys (involving both land and sea travel), which are governed by legislation that does not adequately protect their welfare. The law fails to take proper account of scientific research and practical experience relating to their needs in areas such as journey length, space allowance and temperature/ventilation. In addition, some animals exported for further fattening may be sent to rearing systems that would be illegal in the UK, and/or provide conditions that fall below standard UK practice, further strengthening the welfare-related case for retaining animals in the UK for rearing.

Scientific evidence1 indicates that transport can result in serious health and welfare problems for farm animals. Livestock are subjected to a series of unfamiliar experiences and conditions, inevitably resulting in some degree of stress. Dehydration, thirst, hunger, heat and cold stress, inability to rest comfortably, injury and even death may occur in transit if the animals’ needs are not properly satisfied in terms of provision of food and water, appropriate temperature, humidity and ventilation, enough space and bedding, and effective monitoring by accompanying hauliers/attendants. Poor driving technique, such as cornering too quickly or braking too hard, also has a major effect on welfare, leading to falling and injury 1. Animals can become ill after travel due to a suppressed immune system resulting from stress1, whilst animals already suffering from disease during transport can become more ‘infective’ when stressed, so are more likely to transmit illness to others in transit2. The journey complexity is also important. Journeys involving more than one loading/unloading process, and/or different modes of transport, such as those undertaken during export from the UK, clearly add to the potential for stress, distress and injury, with the loading and unloading processes being particularly challenging to some species. It has also been recommended – on the basis of research – that some young animals, such as calves under four weeks of age, should not be ‘marketed’ at all due to their inability to cope adequately with all the physical and mental challenges posed by the transport and associated processes3. Current EU legislation on live transport4 is implemented in the UK through the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006. However, the law fails to protect adequately the welfare of farm animals in transit. For example, it fails to take account of research indicating how much space farm animals need, what maximum travel times and feed/water intervals should be for different species and ages of animal, and appropriate temperatures and humidity. Poor enforcement of the law in some countries, as evidenced by the European Commission’s own inspection body, the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO)5, as well as by the findings of investigations undertaken by other bodies including the RSPCA6, adds to the likelihood of welfare problems occurring.

The indicator figures

THERE WAS AN OVERALL FALL IN THE NUMBER OF LIVE ANIMALS TRANSPORTED FROM THE UK IN 2007, BUT LIVE CALF EXPORTS INCREASED.

42 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

The number of live animals transported from the UK has been reported by Defra on its website for a number of years. The figures were obtained from sailing reports made by State Veterinary Service (now called Animal Health) staff. However, from mid 2006 onwards these figures were no longer available on Defra’s website. In order to obtain figures for 2006 a parliamentary question was developed and tabled to Defra7. As the source (UK government) was essentially the


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

Table 1: Number of live farm animals7 exported from the UK for slaughter or further fattening, 2000–2007 Number for fattening

Number for slaughter

Total number

Not available

Not available

752,150A

2001B

Not available

Not available

109,316

C

Not available

Not available

130,048

2003

61,931

6,682

68,613

2004

41,622

6,826

48,448

2005

Not available

Not available

37,104

2006D

192,383

338,205

530,588E

2007F

155,422

305,156

460,578G

2000

2002

Data source: Defra website, except for 2006 (see point D below) and 2007 (see point F below). A – Includes 1,230 pigs. B – In 2001, exports only took place during January and part of February, due to the ban imposed following the outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). C – In 2002, live exports did not resume until July following the end of the FMD outbreak. D – Data obtained from answer given by the Minister of State for Defra in answer to a parliamentary question – Hansard: HL Deb, 17 July 07, c9WA. E – Includes 128,028 cattle (122,028 of which were for further fattening), 289,529 sheep (70,335 went for further fattening) and 113,031 ‘other’ livestock (20 of which were for further fattening). F – Data obtained from Defra via a Freedom of Information Act request, July 2008. Defra’s source quoted as the EU Commission TRACES database. G – Includes 167,252 cattle (147,719 of which were for further fattening), 205,622 sheep (7,668 of which went for further fattening) and 87,704 other livestock (namely pigs and goats, 35 of which went for further fattening).

same as that from which previous years’ figures were obtained, a valid comparison could be made. However, a similar approach failed to elicit the 2007 figures from government. In response to a parliamentary question initiative by the RSPCA, asking for live export numbers in 2007, Defra minister Jonathan Shaw responded: “The information requested is not collected centrally and to do so would incur disproportionate cost8.” Hence, the live export figures for 2007 had to be obtained via a Freedom of Information Act disclosure request to Defra8. When responding, Defra quoted its source as the EU Commission’s TRACES database. This is different from the data source previously used by Defra. However, as both sources are governmental, it will be assumed that it is reasonable and meaningful to make a direct comparison between the data from 2006 and 2007. Unsurprisingly the figures show that live exports fell sharply following the Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001, with 2005 levels being only five per cent of those in 2000. This could indicate that alternatives were sought and successfully developed for the livestock (primarily sheep) that were no longer being transported overseas. Slaughtering animals in the UK and exporting the meat instead is already the way in which the vast majority of lamb is

exported. The negative effect of transport-related stress and injury on meat quality is well documented9. Hence, the export of meat instead of livestock is a positive approach in terms of both animal welfare and product quality, lending further incentive to achieving complete phasing out of live exports for slaughter and further fattening. The figures showed a very significant increase in the number of cattle exported live from the UK during 2006 – from zero in 2005 to 128,028, the vast majority of which (122,028) went for further fattening. It is reasonable to assume that this was primarily due to the resumption of the trade in live calves to the Continent for veal production, following the lifting in May 2006 of the 10-year ban on UK bovine exports imposed due to high levels of BSE in the UK. The demand for these mainly dairy-bred calves in veal producing countries such as the Netherlands, coupled with an unfavourable UK market for these animals and a poor economic situation in the UK dairy industry, resulted in an immediate rekindling of an active trade as soon as the ban was lifted. The veal crate system, in which calves were reared in small, barren individual pens, was banned throughout the EU from January 2007, and it is thought that most veal producers had already converted to group housing systems by the time the UK calf exports resumed in May 2006. However, concerns about the

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 43


conditions in which the calves are reared in Continental Europe remain due to continuing discrepancies between even the new EU legislation and UK law, as well as between common UK practice and systems used on the Continent. This added further incentive to look for practical solutions to the live calf export trade that would satisfy all stakeholders and improve animal welfare. This led to the formation of a forum: Beyond Calf Exports, initiated in 2006 by the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming, which brought together all the major stakeholders with involvement or interest in the issue, including the food and farming industries, livestock welfare research scientists and government. The reasons behind the trade in calves are a complex mixture of factors, and the aim of the forum has been to develop financially and practically viable alternatives to the live calf export trade that can help to ensure dairy-bred calves remain in the UK for rearing. Three sub-groups have explored potential ways forward in three key areas: i) identifying opportunities for developing new markets for beef and veal from male dairy calves in the UK ii) identifying the barriers (and potential solutions) to developing a sustainable (in welfare and commercial terms) dairy cow in the UK iii) investigating the question as to how to ensure acceptable levels of welfare for male dairy calves during rearing in the UK, particularly looking at the options put forward by the two other sub-groups. The forum completed its initial work at the end of 2007, and produced a report10 setting out clear recommendations as to the way forward. Progress is being reviewed during 2008. The resumption of the trade in live calves to veal rearing systems abroad halted the previously encouraging decline in live exports for further fattening noted over several years up to 2006. This steady fall had indicated that alternative outlets may have been developed and utilised for some calves, and hence that the process of live export could indeed be successfully replaced. However, it is also clear that many dairy bull calves are killed on-farm at an early age (e.g. around 150,000 in 2007 according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board [AHDB] estimates11) due to difficulties in finding a market for them in the UK. The live export figures for 2007 have, by necessity, been obtained from a different original source (see above) though still via Defra. However, in view of the nature of the sources (i.e. governmental for each year cited), it is reasonable to assume that direct comparisons between them are valid. Such comparison indicates that the total number of animals exported live from the UK in 2007 for further fattening or slaughter fell by around 70,000 compared with the previous year. This encouraging drop is reflected in the export figures for both further fattening and slaughter. However, whilst live sheep exports dropped by more than 80,000 animals between 2006 and 2007 (from 289,529 to 205,622), there was an increase of almost 40,000 in the number of cattle (including calves) transported from the UK. Figures provided by AHDB11 to the RSPCA (personal communication) suggest that 96.2 per cent of bovine exports in 2007

44 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

were animals below six months of age, and 93.8 per cent of bovine animals exported during the first four months of 2007 were less than two months of age. This increase in cattle and calf exports between 2006 and 2007 is not unexpected as the 2006 figure related only to exports between May (when the bovine export ban was lifted) and December, whilst the 2007 data relates to the full 12-month period. In addition, it would have been too soon for the various initiatives engendered by the Beyond Calf Exports Forum activities to have had much effect on 2007 figures. It is to be hoped, however, that by providing alternative outlets for dairy bull calves which allow them to stay in the UK to be reared, these initiatives will bring about a reduction in calf export figures in future years. The decline in transport overseas of sheep and other species (namely pigs and goats), coupled with the on-going efforts of the calf forum, lead the RSPCA to believe that it will still be feasible for the export of live animals for slaughter or further fattening to cease within the next five years. This would avoid the many associated risks to welfare faced by livestock during the export process and in some cases, subsequent rearing and/or slaughter overseas. In addition, the RSPCA is keen to see significant improvements in content, implementation and enforcement of European legislation relating to live transport as a whole, particularly with regard to reduced journey times, greater space allowances, stricter temperature requirements and more resources allocated to monitoring and enforcement in all member states. The European Commission has indicated that it intends to review the EU live transport regulation during 2008. The RSPCA will be pressing the Commission to ensure that the key welfare-related issues previously mentioned are included in that review, in the hope that legislation that more effectively protects animal welfare in transit will result.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

European Commission Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare report: The welfare of animals during transport (details for horses, pigs, sheep and cattle). March 2002. 2 Kent J E and Ewbank R. 1986. The effect of road transportation on the blood constituent and behaviour of calves. II. One to three weeks old. British Veterinary Journal 142, 131–140. Kent J E and Ewbank R.,1986. The effect of road transportation on the blood constituent and behaviour of calves. III. Three months old. British Veterinary Journal 142, 326–335. 3 Knowles T G. 1995. A review of the post-transport mortality among younger calves. Veterinary Record 317, 406–407. 4 Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. 5 For further information on the FVO, including its reports on implementation and enforcement of live transport law in EU countries, see: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/food/fvo/index_en.htm 6 Standing room only – science and suffering in European live animal transport. Chapter 3. RSPCA 2003. 7 HL Deb 17 July 2007 c.9WA. 8 HC Deb 29 April 2008 c.285W. 9 Gregory N G. 1998. Animal Welfare and Meat Science, CAB International. 10 Beyond Calf Exports Forum: Report on Conclusions and Recommendations, January 2008. 11 The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a NDPB (non-departmental public body) established under the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008. It became operational on 1 April 2008. www.ahdb.org.uk .


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

The production of UK non-cage eggs as a proportion of total eggs produced

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

More than half of UK egg laying hens, about 19 million birds, still face a life in battery cages that do not meet the welfare needs of the birds1. Conventional barren cages are to be banned from 20122, however, so-called ‘enriched’ battery cages will still be allowed. Enriched cages provide a minimum of just 50 square centimetres extra usable space (about the size of a beer mat) for each hen compared to conventional cages, and limited facilities. Evidence indicates that neither conventional nor enriched cages adequately satisfy the birds’ physical or behavioural requirements1. The RSPCA believes that all hens should be kept in properly managed free-range or barn systems3, which can provide hens with much higher standards of welfare compared with cages1.

There are several key welfare issues relating to laying hens. I Space allowance Hens naturally carry out numerous basic comfort behaviours, such as feather ruffling, head scratching, body shaking, wing stretching and flapping. Insufficient space in both types (conventional and enriched) of battery cage does not allow the birds to properly carry out these behaviours. In contrast, free-range and barn systems allow free movement of hens over a large area so that they can move away from other birds, increase bone strength and gain access to all the different facilities without difficulty 1 . I Dustbathing Dustbathing is an important physical and behavioural requirement for laying hens, enabling them to preen and recondition their feathers as well as helping to maintain a comfortable body temperature. A scratch area is provided in enriched cages, but the RSPCA believes that the scratch area is not only restrictive in space, but cannot provide the appropriate substrate for adequate dustbathing. In free-range and barn systems hens are provided with enough space as well as access to litter in which the birds are able to dustbathe when and where they choose 1 . I Egg laying Hens are extremely motivated to gain access to a suitable nest site in which to lay their eggs and will perform complex pre-laying behaviours 1 . Currently enriched cages provide only one small nest space in each cage and birds will be forced to compete for this site each day. In free-range and barn systems there is considerably more nest area available compared to enriched cages, giving the hens plenty of opportunity to gain access to and spend appropriate time in the nest site of their choice 1 . I Perching Depending on the positioning of perches in enriched cages, it may be difficult for birds to perch undisturbed or move around the cage. In free-range and barn systems hens are able to freely use perches that do not detract from the overall floor area 1 .

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

In three years’ time the European Directive on the protection of laying hens will be implemented in full, which will mark the end of conventional battery cages throughout Europe. Producers will then have the choice of barn, free-range, organic or enriched cages in which to keep hens for egg production.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 45


The RSPCA would like to see all cages banned and converted to alternative systems, compliant with the RSPCA’s Welfare Standards for Laying Hens 4. In support of this, research has shown that some barn systems can offer a financially comparable alternative to the cost of installing enriched cages 1 . Evidence also shows that the vast majority of UK caged egg producers will have written off their existing conventional cage equipment costs and will be ready to invest in new equipment by 2012 irrespective of the Directive 5.

The indicator figures Data on the number of eggs produced in the UK, according to the method of production, is collected by Defra every three months. The data is based on egg packing throughput surveys for all class A eggs (suitable for retail) and is widely quoted by the egg industry and other relevant organisations. Numbers are given for cage, barn and free-range (which includes organic) eggs. These production figures give a picture of the UK egg market and provide a general indication of the welfare of hens by determining what proportion of the total number of eggs are produced in higher welfare systems compared to cages. From these figures changes in the use of different methods of production over a period of years can then be analysed. Since 2006, the numbers of organic eggs produced have also been collected. Any trends in the use of this type of production system over successive years will be apparent when there is enough data. The majority of class A eggs will be found on supermarket shelves and so an indication of consumer choice and influence on the supply of eggs from different systems of production can also be gained from the changes in numbers of eggs produced. In 2007 approximately 30 million hens in the UK produced 8,473 million class A eggs. The percentage of eggs produced in each system was as follows. I

Cages: 62 per cent.

I

Free-range: 34 per cent (of which six per cent were organic)

I

Barn: Four per cent.

Data source: Defra.

The indicator figures over the last 10 years show an encouraging movement of the industry as a whole towards higher welfare alternative systems (barn and free-range) for housing hens. In 1997 just 15 per cent of class A eggs in the UK were produced in alternative systems, totalling 1,334 million eggs compared to 7,480 million caged eggs. By 2007, this had more than doubled, to a figure of 38 per cent. During this period the number of caged eggs reduced by 30 per cent, while alternative eggs increased by 1 43 per cent.

46 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Figure 1: Eggs produced in different systems as a percentage of total annual egg production, 2003–2007 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

2003 Caged

2004

2005

2006

Free-range and organic

2007 Barn

Data source: Defra.

Figure 2: Number of eggs produced in different systems in millions, 2003–2007 6,000

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,000

1,000

0

2003 Caged

Data source: Defra.

2004

2005

2006

Free-range and organic

2007 Barn


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

While there has been a continual decrease in the proportion of eggs produced in cages over the past five years as shown in Figures 1 and 2, the difference in the last couple of years is negligible. This situation could possibly be explained in part by increasing costs of feed and slim producer margins 6, which in turn may have resulted in a lack of new investment in the industry and hence a decrease in supply (a shortage of free-range eggs occurred in late 2006 6). Also, information regarding the production system is often not clear or prominent on egg boxes, which, as well as misleading pictures and terms, can cause confusion amongst consumers. In addition to the eggs which are sold at retail level, about 25 per cent (more than 2,000 million) of the total number of eggs produced in the UK every year are used for further processing. Sadly, European legislation, which has required the labelling of whole eggs and boxes with the method of production since 2004, is not extended to eggs used as ingredients in food products, such as sandwich fillings and cakes, and the vast majority of these eggs are thought to be produced by caged hens 7. Positive changes in the indicator are expected in the next few

years as some major retailers, due to consumer demand, plan to decrease or stop the sale of eggs from caged hens in their stores. For example, in 2008 The Co-operative stopped selling any eggs from caged hens and both Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have made a commitment to phase out the sale of boxes of (at least) own-brand shell eggs from caged hens by 20 1 2. This follows changes in policy made by other companies, including Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, which since 2002 has only sold whole eggs and products containing eggs from free-range systems. It has also been reported that the first three months of 2008 have seen a significant increase in sales of free-range eggs. In particular, British Lion eggs claimed that free-range retail egg sales rose by almost 20 per cent in volume in February 2008 8. The RSPCA believes that the trend of the indicator in increasing alternative egg production requires government to take the lead concerning transparent information for consumers buying eggs in any form and a review of the call to ban all cages in the UK. The RSPCA would like to see 100 per cent of UK eggs being produced in cage-free systems.

THE INDICATOR FIGURES OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS SHOW AN ENCOURAGING MOVEMENT OF THE INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE TOWARDS HIGHER WELFARE ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS (BARN AND FREE-RANGE) FOR HOUSING HENS.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

3 4 5 6 7 8

The case against cages: Evidence in favour of alternative systems for laying hens. 2005. RSPCA. The Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens currently requires that conventional battery cages be phased out by 2012. However, the review of the Directive, due in 2005, has yet to be undertaken. The vast majority of alternative egg production systems in the UK are Freedom Food accredited, complying with RSPCA Welfare Standards. www.rspca.org.uk/farmanimals Coming of age: The age structure of UK caged egg production facilities. 2006. RSPCA. Ranger, British Free Range Egg Producers Association. March 2008. British Egg Industry Council/Deans Foods, International Egg Forum, 20 June 2007. www.brittegg.co.uk 31 March 2008.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 47


The number of chickens reared to higher on-farm welfare standards

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

The average annual consumption of chicken meat in the UK exceeds that of any other type of meat 1. Consequently, meat chickens (broilers) are by far the most numerous farm animals reared for meat in the UK, accounting for approximately one-third of total meat production1. The welfare issues faced by many meat chickens can be particularly severe. Fast growth rates, low space allowance and poor environmental conditions can all contribute to major welfare problems being experienced by today’s meat chicken. The adoption of higher welfare standards can effectively address these issues and significantly contribute to the improvement of chicken welfare 2. The RSPCA is keen to see more chickens reared to higher welfare standards, such as those developed by the RSPCA.

Owing to the number of animals involved and the severity of the welfare issues that can be encountered, the number of chickens reared to higher welfare standards is an important welfare indicator to monitor. There are currently four key issues that can have a significant effect on meat chicken welfare. One of the issues – growth rate – concerns the bird itself, whereas the other three are to do with the management of the birds. I Growth rate The rate at which broilers grow can have a huge effect on their welfare 3. Meat chickens have been genetically selected to grow quickly. In production terms, genetic selection for high growth rate has been very successful: the time from when the birds first hatch to appearing on the supermarket shelves can be as little as five weeks. However, this rapid weight gain can cause severe health problems, such as lameness and heart defects 3. I Stocking density Stocking density refers to the amount of space allocated to each bird and is expressed as bird weight per square metre. High stocking densities can impair welfare directly through movement restriction and indirectly by causing poor litter and air quality 3. When stocking densities exceed 30kg per square metre there is a steep rise in the frequency of serious welfare problems 3. For example, at high stocking densities, the prevalence of lameness and skin diseases can substantially increase. High stocking densities also make it difficult for birds to perform many of their natural behaviours 3. I Lighting Welfare problems can arise at light intensities below 20 lux 3. At low light intensities birds are less active, which can contribute to the development of lameness and contact dermatitis. And, at very low light levels, birds can develop eye abnormalities 4. Meat chickens may also be reared under a near-continuous lighting regime as this encourages the birds to feed for longer periods, which maximises their growth rate. There is scientific evidence showing that preventing meat chickens from having a proper dark period adversely affects their welfare 5. I Environmental enrichment

THERE IS A LARGE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF CHICKENS REARED TO HIGHER WELFARE STANDARDS.

48 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

A more stimulating, enriched environment encourages birds to be more active, which can help reduce leg and skin problems 3. Chickens provided with an enriched environment are more active – walking and running more, and sitting down less – than those kept without any form of enrichment 6.


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

Table 2: Summary of key differences in on-farm welfare standards between ACP and RSPCA standards Key welfare issue

ACP standards (the chicken industry’s own standards)

RSPCA standards (as used by Freedom Food)

Genetic growth rate (g/bird/day)

No restriction

Maximum 45

Stocking density (in house) (kg per square metre)

Above 38 permitted

Maximum 30

Lighting

Intensity

Minimum of 10 lux

Minimum 100 lux over 75% of floor area and 20 lux over remaining 25%

Dark period

Minimum four hours – except first seven and last 10 days whereby minimum one hour.

Minimum six hours – except first seven and last three days whereby minimum two hours

Natural lighting

No requirement

Required by 1 January 2010

None

Straw bales, perches and pecking objects

Environmental enrichment Data source: ACP and RSPCA.

I Welfare standards

The indicator figures

Chickens can be raised either indoors or with access to the outdoors, i.e. free-range, but their welfare is primarily affected by the standards they are reared to. Currently, most chickens are reared according to standards set by the UK chicken industry’s own assurance scheme – Assured Chicken Production (ACP). However, chickens can be reared to higher welfare standards, such as those of the RSPCA, which are implemented by the RSPCA’s own farm assurance scheme – Freedom Food. Table 2 compares the RSPCA’s Welfare Standards for Chickens 7 with the ACP standards 8 for the key issues affecting chicken welfare on-farm. It should be noted, however, that the RSPCA standards require higher standards of welfare to be implemented throughout the whole of the chicken’s life from hatching right the way through to slaughter, and not just during rearing, i.e. on-farm. In addition to ACP standards, some supermarkets may also require their suppliers to rear chickens to standards that the supermarket has set itself, which can be higher than those set by ACP. The Co-operative’s British Elmwood Chicken, Marks & Spencer’s Oakham Chicken, Tesco’s Willow Farm Chicken, and Waitrose Select Farm Chicken are all reared to higher on-farm welfare standards, compared to those of ACP. Such chickens are referred to as ‘standard plus’. The retail of standard plus chickens is a recent phenomenon: Tesco and Waitrose launched their standard plus lines during June and September 2006, respectively, whilst Marks & Spencer’s and The Co-operative’s standard plus lines were not available until May and October 2007, respectively.

The approximate number of meat chickens reared in the UK to higher welfare standards9 and to the chicken industry’s own standards (ACP) is shown in Table 3. There has been a steady annual decline in the total number of meat chickens reared in the UK over the last four years (down 24.4 million between 2004 and 2007, Table 3). Between 2004 and 2007, inclusive, there was a year-on-year reduction in the number of chickens reared to ACP standards (down 1 30.4 million, 1 5.4 per cent). Over the same period, the total number of chickens reared to higher welfare standards increased (up 106 million birds, 558.7 per cent). Compared to 2006, the number of birds reared to higher welfare standards in 2007 increased by 84.2 million birds, which equates to an increase of 206.7 per cent (up from 4.8 to 1 4.8 per cent of the total market). This large increase was primarily due to the number of chickens reared to individual supermarkets higher welfare standards, i.e. standard plus. Birds reared to RSPCA standards and those reared as organic increased by 76.4 and 48.9 per cent, respectively, over this one-year period. However, birds reared as free-range only, i.e. not to RSPCA standards and within the Freedom Food scheme, decreased by 38.4 per cent. But this is expected to be due to more free-range birds being reared to RSPCA standards. In 2007, 55.5 per cent of chickens reared to higher welfare standards were reared to the individual supermarkets’ own higher welfare standards, i.e. standard plus. This was followed by those

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 49


Table 3: The approximate number and proportion of meat chickens reared in the UK to higher welfare standards and to the chicken industry's own standards (ACP), 2004–2007 Standard/system

Total number of birds

Proportion of total (%)

reared (million) a

ACP b Standard plus RSPCA (indoor) c e

2004

2005

2006

2007

2004

2005

2006

2007

849.38

827.51

814.09

719.00

97.82

96.13

95.23

85.19

69.39

8.22

10.07

22.69

25.14

35.65

1.16

2.64

2.94

4.22

RSPCA (free-range) d e

1.03

Free-range f

7.84

9.38

13.77

8.48

0.90

1.09

1.61

1.00

Organic g

1.06

1.22

1.84

2.74

0.12

0.14

0.22

0.32

868.35

860.80

854.84

843.96

Total a

8.70

100

Some figures may be different to those previously published due to more accurate methods of calculation being employed.

b Commercial broiler chick placings in the UK from UK and non-UK (i.e. imported broiler chicks) hatcheries. Due to calculations, figures also include a small number of chicks reared as free-range and organic or to standards other than ACP. Data from Defra 9. c

Chickens reared indoors to RSPCA welfare standards and within the Freedom Food scheme.

d Free-range chickens reared to RSPCA welfare standards and within the Freedom Food scheme. e Data supplied by Freedom Food Ltd. Chickens reared to the RSPCA standards and not within the Freedom Food scheme have not been included. For years 2004–2006, inclusive, only one figure is presented for chickens reared indoors and as free-range (where applicable). RSPCA welfare standards can be applied to all systems of production, i.e. indoor and free-range, including organic. No organic chickens were reared to the RSPCA’s standards under the Freedom Food scheme from 2004–2007, inclusive. f

Does not include free-range chickens reared to the RSPCA’s standards and within the Freedom Food scheme. Data supplied by four largest UK free-range producers, which represent the majority of the UK free-range market. This data is not collected centrally by any organisation.

g Data from Defra 10. Data collected by organic certification officers during annual on-farm inspections. Data therefore represents number of chickens on farm at that time and not the total throughput of animals during the year.

chickens reared to the RSPCA standards (35.5 per cent), then those reared as free-range only (6.8 per cent) and then organic (2.2 per cent). Total free-range production represented 2.03 per cent (17.2 million birds) of the total market in 2007 – 50.6 per cent were reared to RSPCA standards. The RSPCA welcomes the increase in the number of chickens reared to higher welfare standards and would like to see all meat chickens reared to higher welfare standards, akin to the RSPCA’s Welfare Standards for Chickens, which take proper account of the birds’ physical and behavioural needs. The Society would also welcome the collection and publication of data on the number of chickens produced under the different methods of production.

50 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES National Farmers Union and British Poultry Council. 2006. British Chicken – What Price? NFU, Warwickshire and BPC, London. 2 Paying the price: The facts about chickens reared for their meat. 2005. RSPCA. 3 European Commission – Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare. 2000. The Welfare of Chickens Kept for Meat Production (Broilers). European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. June 2006. London. 4 Prescott N. 2005. The importance of light and vision to poultry. Proceeding of the workshop on lighting for domestic fowl. Silsoe Research Institute, Bedford, UK. March 2005. 5 Blockhuis H J. 1983. The relevance of sleep in poultry. World Poultry Science Journal, 39, 33–37. 6 Kells A and Dawkins M S. 2001. The effect of a ‘Freedom Food’ enrichment on the behaviour of broilers on commercial farms. Animal Welfare, 10, 347–356. 7 RSPCA. 2008. RSPCA Welfare Standards for Chickens. RSPCA, UK. 8 ACP. 2007. Assured Chicken Production Standards 2007–2008, Assured Chicken Production, UK. 9 Refers to chickens reared to individual supermarkets higher welfare standards, i.e. standard plus (see text), RSPCA welfare standards, organic certification scheme standards and birds reared as free-range. 10 Defra. 2007. Poultry and Poultrymeat Statistics Notice Defra, London. Available from: http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/statnot/ppntc.pdf 11 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Organic Statistics United Kingdom. June 2006. Defra, London. Available from: http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/statnot/orguk.pdf 1


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

WELFARE INDICATOR:

Piglet mortality levels between birth

and weaning

RSPCA concern

Background

The average mortality rate of piglets between birth and weaning (which on average in the UK takes place at around 27 days old 1) experienced on commercial pig farms in the UK is influenced by a number of factors, including the animals’ environment, health care, management, nutrition and genetics of the mother and/or piglets. It is reasonable to assume that in many cases, the deaths of piglets pre-weaning will have been preceded by a period of suffering, with the nature, degree and duration of suffering depending on the cause of death. The RSPCA therefore believes that a reduction in the levels of pre-weaning piglet mortality would clearly be an important development in pig welfare.

In addition to causes such as disease and illness, studies investigating the factors affecting pre-weaning mortality have shown that a significant proportion of deaths result from overlaying or crushing by the piglets’ mother (the sow) 2 3. There are known to be breed or genetic-related differences in the mothering behaviour and ability of sows, resulting in different levels of sow-related piglet deaths between strains 4, whilst recent research indicates that the genetics of the male (boar) may also influence the level of piglet mortality 5. Newly published research indicates that the age and condition of the sow is also important, with sows that have given birth (farrowed) to their first litter (gilts) or third or more litter (third parity +) more likely to lose piglets, as are fatter sows 5. This may be due to a lack of maternal experience in gilts, whilst older and fatter sows are larger and may therefore have difficulty in getting up and lying down, increasing the risk of piglet crushing. Sows with skin damage or abscesses are also associated with higher levels of piglet mortality, which could be due to an increased risk of infection, or generally poor physical condition 5. Stock-keeper input can also have a considerable effect on piglet mortality, with mortality being reduced by up to a half when the stock-keeper is present during farrowing 5 6. This is presumably as a result of increased detection of problems during farrowing and therefore a higher level of intervention when problems arise. Techniques and equipment are currently being developed to aid the detection of imminent farrowing and thus alert the farmer for supervision 7. Additionally, checking of the sow and her piglets twice a day, as opposed to once a day, is associated with higher piglet survival rates 5, whilst the level of fearfulness of sows towards their stock-keepers has been shown to affect both the length of time a sow takes to give birth and pre-weaning piglet survival; higher fearfulness being associated with higher death rates 8. This illustrates the importance of positive, considerate handling and stockmanship in order to ensure that the pigs have trust in and lack of fear towards their stock-keepers. In addition to these sow-related factors, a number of environmental and management features have been shown to affect piglet survival. Fostering of piglets within 27 hours of birth, if fostering is to take place, dipping of the navel with disinfectant and the use of iron injections for piglets are all associated with higher piglet survival rates 5 9. Recently, a nutritional supplement has been developed for sows during farrowing which reportedly cuts stillbirths and neonatal mortality, mainly due to a reduction in farrowing time 10 1 1. A longer farrowing period, which is associated with larger litter sizes, results in the sow, or at least her uterine muscle tissue, becoming tired.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 51


Figure 3: Average mortality levels (%) from birth to weaning of piglets born alive in the UK 15

12

9

6

3

This increases the risk of neonatal death, particularly of the last two to four piglets, for which the likelihood of death is approximately 50 per cent 10 1 1. The thermal environment is also important, with insulated accommodation, the provision of extra heat (including floor heating) during farrowing, and fan ventilation as opposed to natural ventilation all associated with reduced piglet mortality 5 12 1 3 in indoor systems. Currently, research is being conducted to investigate the possibility of using thermal cameras to identify piglets suffering from hypothermia in the first few days after farrowing 7. This would allow the prompt and appropriate treatment of weak newborn piglets, improving their chances of survival. It is clear that the implementation of appropriate husbandry and management practices (including development and effective implementation of veterinary health plans) can help to reduce mortality, which should facilitate a positive outcome in both welfare and economic terms.

The indicator figures 0

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: BPEX Pig Yearbook 2008.

52 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

As illustrated in Figure 3, after remaining fairly constant at approximately 10–11 per cent until 2005, in 2006 pre-weaning piglet mortality levels increased to just over 13 per cent 1. However, 2007 saw a slight reduction in pre-weaning mortality levels to 12.6 per cent 1. Whilst this is encouraging, this still represents the deaths every year of about 1.4 million piglets 14 before weaning at three to four weeks of age. The reason for this slight decrease in pre-weaning mortality is, at first sight, unclear. The main factor that influences this figure, litter size, has not gone down; in fact, in 2007 it continued to increase slightly (larger litter sizes usually lead to smaller and therefore more vulnerable piglets15). However, there are a number of possible explanations, some or all of which may have contributed to the slight reduction seen last year. In recent years, the UK pig industry itself has recognised the importance of striving for improvements in pig health and welfare, and has been encouragingly proactive in setting up several initiatives aimed at gathering information on, and taking action to improve, the well-being of farmed pigs, including reducing pre-weaning mortality. The BPEX Knowledge Transfer (KT) team 16 has been proactive in establishing a number of producer workshops; discussion topics have included ‘improving piglet survival’, ‘on farm disease eradication’, and ‘straw-based nursery management’. A number of leaflets aimed at producers have also been produced, including one on ‘newborn management’. The industry also received a grant in 2007 from Defra’s Farm Health Planning group, which enabled producers to get together in regional groups to discuss specific health issues and share their experiences. All of these initiatives may have helped to make producers and stock-keepers more alert to the issue of pre-weaning mortality,


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

as well as giving practical advice as to ways to tackle the problem and reduce the prevalence. Clearly, reducing pre-weaning piglet mortality to a figure near to zero would be extremely difficult to achieve, even with high standards of environment, health care and management. However, in view of the indications from practical experience that piglet mortality levels significantly lower than the national average can be achieved on some pig farms (pre-weaning mortality levels are nearly two per cent lower in the top 10 per cent compared to the average 1), there is clearly the potential for improvement in this area. This, coupled

with the growing availability of information both on the causes of piglet deaths, and ways in which the problem might be reduced, would suggest that an annual reduction in the average level of one per cent over the next five years would be a realistic aspiration. If achieved, this would result in a fall from just over 1 2.6 per cent (in 2007) 1 down to just over seven per cent by the end of 20 1 2, a drop that would prevent the deaths of approximately 1.6 million piglets17 over that period. Such a reduction would be of benefit both to the pig industry in economic terms and, most importantly, to pig welfare.

IT IS CLEAR THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF APPROPRIATE HUSBANDRY AND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (INCLUDING DEVELOPMENT AND EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF VETERINARY HEALTH PLANS) CAN HELP TO REDUCE MORTALITY, WHICH SHOULD FACILITATE A POSITIVE OUTCOME IN BOTH WELFARE AND ECONOMIC TERMS.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3

4

5

6 7

8

9

10 11 12

13

14 15

16 17

BPEX Pig Yearbook. 2008. Svedensen J, Bengtsson A C H and Svedensen L S. 1986. Occurrence and causes of traumatic injuries in neonatal pigs. Pig News Information 7: 159–179. Cronin G M and Smith J A. 1992. Effects of accommodation type and straw bedding around parturition and during lactation on the behaviour of primiparous sows and survival and growth of piglets to weaning. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 33, 191–208. McPee C P, Kerr J C and Cameron N D. 2001. Peri-partum posture and behaviour of gilts and the location of their piglets in lines selected for components of efficient lean growth. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 71, 1–12. An epidemiological study of risk factors associated with pre-weaning mortality on commercial pig farms (2005). Report to Defra by the University of Bristol and the University of Warwick. Available to download from: www.defra.gov.uk/science/project_data/documentlibrary/AW0133/AW0133_4600_FRP.doc White K R, Anderson D M and Bate L A. 1996. Increasing piglet survival through an improved farrowing management protocol. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 76: 491–495. Oliviero C, Heinonen M, Pastell M, Heikkonen J, Valros A, Vainio O and Peltoniemi O (2007). Modern technology in supervision of parturition to prevent piglet mortality. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 49(Suppl 1): S12. Janczak A M, Pedersen L J, Rydhmer L and Bakken M. 2003. Relation between early fear- and anxiety-related behaviour and maternal ability in sows. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 82, 121–135. O’Reilly K M, Harriss M J, Mendl, Held S, Moinard C, Statham P, Marchant-Forde J and Green L E. 2006. Factors associated with pre-weaning mortality on commercial pig farms in England and Wales. Veterinary Record 159: 193–196. Pig World. March 2007. Farmers Weekly. 23 February 2007. Randolph C E, O’Gorman A J, Potter R A, Jones P H and Miller B G (2005). Effects of insulation on the temperature within farrowing huts and the weaning weights of piglets reared on a commercial outdoor pig unit. Veterinary Record 157: 800–805. Malmkvist M, Pedersen L J, Damgaard B M, Thodberg K, Jørgensen E and Labouriau R (2006). Does floor heating around parturition affect the vitality of piglets born to loose housed sows? Applied Animal Behaviour Science 99: 88–105. Based on BPEX Pig Yearbook 2008 figures for number of breeding sows, piglets born alive per sow and piglet mortality rate in 2007. Weary D M, Phillips P A, Pajor E A, Fraser D and Thompson B K. 1998. Crushing of piglets by sows: effects of litter features, pen features and sow behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 61, 103–111. More information can be found on the BPEX website at: www.bpex.org.uk/PracticalAdvice/ProducerKt/KtTeam/Blog.aspx Calculated on the basis of the 2007 figure for piglets born alive per year in the UK pig herd, and assuming a stable annual figure for this parameter.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 53


The number, nature and outcomes of Animal Health1 inspections of farms and livestock markets

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

The welfare of animals in the UK on farms and at livestock markets is governed by specific legislation. While the RSPCA believes that in a number of areas the law fails to protect farm animal welfare adequately, it does at least provide a baseline standard which all are required to achieve. Monitoring of the implementation of animal welfare legislation and ensuring its enforcement are, therefore, of considerable importance, and must be undertaken effectively – in terms of both quantity and quality of inspection. Similarly, the government issues codes of recommendation for the welfare of livestock that aim to set out ‘best practice’ in terms of the care of farm animals. Ascertaining the degree to which the codes are followed across the farming industry can, therefore, provide a valuable indication of the overall welfare state of farm animals in the UK. The RSPCA believes the government must allocate increased resources to its farm animal welfare inspection (in terms of number and nature of inspection visits) of farm animal holdings to ensure that legislation relating to livestock welfare is being implemented across the country.

Animal Health is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and it also works on behalf of the Scottish Executive, Welsh Assembly Government and the Food Standards Agency. Animal Health succeeded the State Veterinary Service in 2007 1. It is described on the government’s website2 as: “...the government’s executive agency primarily responsible for ensuring that farmed animals in Great Britain are healthy, disease-free and well looked after.” The agency is the official inspection body acting on behalf of Defra, the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) and the Welsh Assembly Government. A significant part of its work involves undertaking visits to livestock premises to ascertain the level of compliance with, and undertake enforcement of, UK legislation relating to farm animal welfare on farms (primarily the Welfare of Farmed Animals [England] Regulations 2000 and amendments) and at livestock markets (primarily the Welfare of Animals at Markets Order 1990). Compliance with government Codes of Recommendation for the Welfare of Livestock, is also checked. Failure to achieve the ‘codes’ is not in itself a legal offence, but can be used as evidence of falling below ‘best practice’ in the event of an animal welfare-related prosecution. Under the reformed EU Common Agricultural Policy, the outcome of checks by the inspection agency on ‘crosscompliance’ with livestock welfare legislation has a bearing on the level of subsidy payments that may be received by a producer. Failures in cross-compliance can result in some of the payment being withheld. Although in several areas, the RSPCA believes that current EU (and hence, for the most part, UK) farm animal welfare-related legislation fails to afford adequate protection to livestock, compliance with the law does at least help to ensure minimum standards of care. Government Codes of Recommendation, which set generally higher standards, help to offer more protection. The work of the agency is, therefore, very significant on several counts. The data it generates can be extremely valuable in terms of providing information on the status quo regarding the level of compliance with welfare law and codes, and also of assisting in decisions on where best to focus efforts to bring about necessary improvements. The number of visits and hence the proportion of livestock holdings visited is obviously also significant if a truly representational picture of the welfare state of the UK’s livestock is to be ascertained. Visits are undertaken on both a targeted and random basis, resulting not only from complaints but also from an elective process.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

54 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

Table 4: Number of visits and inspections undertaken by Animal Health on farms and at livestock markets, 2003–2007 Year

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Farms

2,817 (4,964)

3,149 (5,431)

3,349 (6,123)

3,834 (6,407)

3,978a

Markets

3,647 (8,735)

3,658 (8,719)

2,943 (7,293)

2,569 (6,706)

2,425 (6,113)

Data source: Defra: The report of the Chief Veterinary Officer – Animal Health 2003–2007. Note: The number of inspections is the second figure, shown in brackets. More than one ‘inspection’ may take place during a single ‘visit’ to one premises, for example if more than one species is held at the site. a

Comparable figures for ‘inspections’ are not available for 2007. Welfare inspections on farm consist of up to 11 assessment criteria and the figures for the total number of assessments made for each criteria are now reported.

Indicator figures The total number of farms (premises holding farm animals used for commercial production of food) in the UK is estimated as being about 170,0003. Table 4 shows that there has been a small but steady year-on-year increase in the number of visits to farms undertaken by SVS/Animal Health between 2003 and 2007. However, the figures also show that the maximum number of visits to farms by SVS/Animal Health in any one of the years 2003–2007 was 3,978, representing slightly over two per cent of the total number of farms. This contrasts with the coverage achieved by farm assurance schemes, a number of which visit every scheme member every year, and a few of which undertake additional visits. It is, however, the case that the number of farms involved in a single scheme is significantly lower than the total in the country so higher ‘coverage’ is clearly easier to achieve. The total number of livestock markets in the UK is around 4 155 . On average, therefore, each market received 16 Animal Health visits during 2007. The outcome of the visits made by Animal Health is also reported in the Defra Chief Veterinary Officer’s (CVO) report. The outcomes are recorded as falling into one of four categories: A (compliance with legislation and codes); B (compliance with legislation but not codes); C (non-compliance with legislation); and D (unnecessary pain, unnecessary distress seen on the visit). The data are presented in the form of graphs in the CVO’s report, without the actual figures being stated, making it difficult to report exact information here. However, the following conclusions regarding the situation in 2007 can be drawn from the graphs presented in the 2007 report:

I Non-compliance with Codes of Recommendation is seen most frequently on pig, beef, and broiler farms. Overall: I

around 40 per cent of assessments undertaken on pig farms during complaint or targeted visits identified a failure to comply with the relevant codes, though this figure was found to be only around 10 per cent on programme, elective and cross-compliance visits

I

the non-compliance figures for broilers were around 38 and 16 per cent (complaint/targeted and elective respectively)

I

for beef, the figures were 38 per cent (complaint/targeted) and 11 per cent (programme/elective).

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 55


I Combining data relating to all species visited, non-compliance with codes found on complaint or target farm visits was most common in the areas of: I

disease treatment (around 50 per cent non-compliance – an improvement on the 2006 figure of 60 per cent)

I

housing (around 45 per cent per cent – 2006 figure was 55 per cent)

I

environment (about 45 per cent, compared with around 53 per cent the previous year)

I

records (45 per cent – 2006 was about 51 per cent)

I

staffing issues (about 42 per cent compared with more than 50 per cent in 2006)

I

freedom of movement-related (just under 20 per cent of cases, a similar figure to the previous year’s findings).

I With regard to legislation: I

an approximate 18 per cent failure rate in complying with requirements on keeping farm records was noted on complaint or target farm visits representing a considerable improvement on the 2006 failure rate of 30 per cent. The figure was found to be less than 10 per cent on programme and elective visits (2006 figure for this was nearly 20 per cent)

I

around a 16 per cent failure rate to comply with the law relating to disease treatment was noted on complaint and target visits (only about one per cent failure seen on programme/elective visits)

I

failure to adhere to legislation relating to animals’ environments was noted in just over 10 per cent of cases on programme/ target farms (nearer two per cent on programme/elective visits)

I

about 10 per cent non-compliance with legislation on feed and water was seen on complaint and target visits (but only about one per cent failure on programme/elective visits).

I Overall, nearly 40 per cent of all assessments made on complaint or target farm visits identified a failure to comply with Codes of Recommendation for the welfare of livestock, an improvement on the 50 per cent figure the previous year. Around 10 per cent on programme and elective visits noted codes non-compliance (similar to 2006). Just under 10 per cent of assessments (complaint and target visits) noted non-compliance with legislation, a slight improvement on the 2006 figure of almost 12 per cent. I At livestock markets, the most common areas of non-compliance with codes were those relating to: I

feed and water (just under 30 per cent of assessments identifying failures – similar to 2006)

I

bedding (approximately 25 per cent – slightly up on the 2006 figure of 20 per cent)

I

care of unfit animals (just over 20 per cent, a small improvement on the 25 per cent noted the previous year)

I

loading onto/unloading from vehicles (around 13 per cent, considerably lower than the previous year’s figure of just over 30 per cent failure).

Generally, the incidence of non-compliance with legislation at livestock markets was reported as being very low, full compliance being recorded during 99 per cent of market inspections.

THE RSPCA BELIEVES THE GOVERNMENT MUST ALLOCATE INCREASED RESOURCES TO ITS FARM ANIMAL WELFARE INSPECTION (IN TERMS OF NUMBER AND NATURE OF INSPECTION VISITS) OF FARM ANIMAL HOLDINGS TO ENSURE THAT LEGISLATION RELATING TO LIVESTOCK WELFARE IS BEING IMPLEMENTED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

56 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


FARM ANIMAL INDICATORS

These data indicate some encouraging improvements in 2007 compared with the previous year in a number of areas relating to SVS/Animal Health findings on farms and at markets regarding compliance with law and codes. There are, however, a number of areas where little if any progress has been made. Similarly, the number of visits undertaken by the agency has increased only slightly, with coverage still being little more than two per cent of livestock farms. This makes it difficult to accept the outcome of Animal Health visits as truly representative of the situation across the whole livestock farming industry. However, other developments during 2007 relating to the qualitative side of the Animal Health’s work have been encouraging. In its Business Plan for 2007–2008, the agency stated that it intends to: “Establish an Inspections Programme, to analyse critical inspection points and on-farm activities and develop consistent risk-based inspections”. From 1 January 2007, its work included inspections to check cross-compliance with animal welfare Statutory Management Requirements as part of EU Cross-Compliance Regulations. The risk model has been specifically developed and implemented for the purpose of allocating these inspections. In addition, the agency has previously stated that it is working with government to help develop

government policies that are: “both deliverable and focused on outcomes”, an important development if the welfare of livestock is to be effectively assessed and, where necessary, improved. The RSPCA would like to see a more outcomes-based approach to farm and market inspections, in which a formal assessment is made not only of the resources (in terms of environment, feed and water etc.) provided, but also the end result in terms of the animals’ health and welfare. On 1 April 2007, the SVS joined with the Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate, Egg Marketing Inspectorate and the Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service to become a single body, Animal Health. This transformation, coupled with its involvement in cross-compliance checking and progression of the aforementioned policies have at least the potential to improve the effectiveness of the agency and, consequently, the welfare of farm animals in the areas that fall within its remit. As outlined, the outcome of SVS/Animal Health visits do indicate some improvements during 2007 in compliance rates with livestock welfare law and codes in some areas. The RSPCA would like to see tangible evidence of further progress in these and other areas over the next few years, as well as continuing positive developments in the nature and number of Animal Health visits to farms and markets.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

2 3 4

In April 2007, the State Veterinary Service (SVS) merged with various other bodies involved in overseeing aspects of the livestock farming sector and wildlife, and the resulting agency was named Animal Health. www.defra.gov.uk/animalhealth Defra Farming Statistics; Welsh Assembly Agricultural Statistics; SEERAD Agricultural Statistics. Source: Livestock Auctioneers Association: www.laa.co.uk and the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland: www.auctioneersscotland.co.uk July 2008.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 57


PIC CREDITS: RSPCA, DAMION DIPLOCK, TIM SAMBROOK/RSPCA PHOTOLIBRARY. HELEN BALL, MINDA BHOGAL.

58 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


INTRODUCTION PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

In 2007, there were over 15 million pet animals in the UK with more than 40 per cent of the population owning a pet1. Bearing these numbers in mind it is not surprising that the welfare of pet animals can be compromised by irresponsible pet ownership, which is due to ignorance or lack of understanding of animals’ welfare needs, or by intentionally causing animals pain, suffering and cruelty. For the purposes of this report, the majority of data and statistical information concerning pets has been obtained from the RSPCA’s own internal data-collecting sources. Unfortunately, statistics concerning pet animals is not collected at a national level or by a central source in the UK. Therefore the information the RSPCA collates and publishes must be regarded as an objective reflection of pet issues, as little else exists, and will hopefully be considered representative of England and Wales, if not the whole of the UK. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA) is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to affect pet animals in the UK. Coming into effect in 2007 the Act introduced the welfare offence, placing a ‘duty of care’ on all those responsible for animals to provide for their animals’ needs, which is one of the most significant components of the new law2. Apart from the AWA, there were a number of other events that occurred in 2007, which impacted on the welfare of pet animals.

■ The law banning the docking of dogs’ tails for cosmetic purposes came into force in England3 and Wales4. In Scotland, all tail docking of dogs (unless for medical reasons) became illegal5. The first RSPCA prosecution for the offence was taken under the AWA in Wales in June 2007. ■ The welfare of about 60,000 racehorses will be improved due to a new ruling that was introduced by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA) in April 20076. It is now mandatory for all jockeys competing in flat races to carry cushioned whips. ■ The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare showed that 13,500 greyhounds bred for racing are considered ‘surplus’ to the greyhound racing industry in England and Wales every year7. The organisation also said that almost 5,000 greyhounds are unaccounted for, presumed killed by the age of three or four when their racing days are over. ■ Cruelty investigations by the RSPCA rose by 10.5 per cent in 2007 on the previous year8. Neglect was once again the most common form of cruelty. Animal rescues and collections, with the majority being pet animals, increased by eight per cent.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Pet Food Manufacturer Association’s data: www.pfma.org.uk/overall/pet-ownership.htm Section 9, Animal Welfare Act 2006. www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/act/docking.htm http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/animalwelfare/ Companiondomesticanimalwelfare/taildocking/?lang=en www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2007/02/07102500 The Horseracing Regulatory Authority. Modification of ‘The orders and rules of racing’ H8 whips – specifications (rule 149(ii)). www.apgaw.org/reports.asp www.rspca.org.uk

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 59


The number of unwanted healthy animals taken into the care of the RSPCA

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

In the UK, about 43 per cent of the population own a pet with the majority owning cats and dogs 1. There are just over 14 million pet cats and dogs and a further 1.7 million small animals including rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and rats. Increasingly, more ‘exotic’ animals are being kept as pets; these non-domestic animals include snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs and chinchillas. With so many pet animals in the UK, it is not surprising that there is also an abundance of unwanted pets needing new homes. Unfortunately, not all pet owners are aware of the long-term commitment they are taking on when initially getting an animal, and some are unable to continue to provide the suitable environment or care for their chosen animal. In extreme cases these animals can suffer either physical or emotional cruelty or are simply abandoned. When an animal is no longer wanted or the owners’ circumstances change, the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations are often turned to for help. It is a concern that some animals suffer unnecessarily due to the irresponsibility of the very people who should ultimately be responsible for them. The RSPCA would like to see the number of unwanted animals in the UK significantly reduced until the problem no longer exists.

There are many reasons why the UK has a problem with unwanted pets and why many of these animals will end up being cared for by animal charities until new homes can be found for them. It is at least partly the result of impulse buying, lack of research carried out before an animal is acquired, irresponsible breeding and changes to owners’ circumstances. Pets are sometimes purchased when they are small and cute looking, with little thought given to what owning an animal actually means. Impulse buying can result in rabbits spending the majority of their time in a small hutch, dogs not given any or enough exercise and hamsters ignored when a child becomes bored of them. Appropriate behavioural training is often neglected and a significant proportion of unwanted animals pass through rehoming and rescue centres for this reason alone. Other reasons why a pet may need to be found a new home include changes in family, health or financial circumstances. In the UK, there are more than 1 00 rehoming centres 2 run by the most well-known and largest animal charities. These include the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Cats Protection, the Blue Cross, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA), and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA). Many more rehoming centres are run by smaller organisations. Pet animals are taken into the RSPCA’s care in a number of ways: by RSPCA inspectors, animal collection officers, and by owners who are directed towards their local RSPCA branch or animal establishment. In 2007, the RSPCA nationally operated 1 7 regional animal centres, four hospitals and five clinics. The RSPCA’s branches operated a further 39 centres and 40 clinics. Collectively these establishments have a capacity to care for more than 6,300 cats and dogs at any given time. A network of about 700 volunteer animal fosterers and 1 50 private boarding establishments are utilised for animal rehoming and accommodation. This national network of specialists not only provides a safe haven for the huge variety of animals that are rescued, abandoned or voluntarily signed over to the Society, but also offers them a second chance of a new home. The RSPCA, like many other organisations, aims to find new loving homes for every animal that enters into its care. The number of healthy animals entering the care of the RSPCA each year is used to indicate the scale of the unwanted pet problem in England and Wales.

The indicator figures THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

60 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

To gauge the scale of the problem of unwanted healthy animals, this indicator focuses on the animals that are taken into RSPCA care in England and Wales. A true figure would incorporate the number of


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

animals euthanased by vets at the owners’ request and the number of animals that enter non-RSPCA establishments. Currently, there is no nationally established format to identify the total number of unwanted pets that are dealt with each year. Figure 1 demonstrates the number of animals rehomed by organisations that provide details on their websites or in their annual reports/reviews. In 2007, five of the biggest animal welfare organisations in the UK rehomed nearly 150,000 animals. It is to be expected that thousands more animals will be rehomed by other organisations, vets, local authorities or individuals. For the purpose of this indicator, RSPCA data is used. In future it is hoped that year-on-year figures can be obtained from many other organisations in the UK so as to give a more accurate and representative picture of the problem regarding unwanted animals. The number of unwanted animals is calculated by combining the number of animals rehomed by the RSPCA and the number of healthy animals euthanased. This figure includes cats, dogs, equines, birds, small mammals such as rabbits and non-domestic or exotic animals such as snakes, lizards and terrapins. Figure 2 shows that over the past five years the number of healthy animals entering the care of the RSPCA has decreased by around 3.5 per cent, with just 2,51 6 fewer animals coming into the RSPCA in 2007 than in 2003. The amount of healthy animals euthanased was at its lowest in five years, with more animals finding new homes than the year before. It is disappointing that in 2007, thousands of unwanted animals were placed into the care of animal welfare organisations, many of which are charities and rely solely on the generosity of the general public and other donators. The majority of animal organisations in the UK also promote neutering, microchipping and responsible pet ownership, in attempt to help avoid the problem of unwanted pets. However, with at least 1 50,000 animals in the UK needing new homes in 2007, much more needs to be done to reduce the number of unwanted animals and prevent the suffering that can be caused to them. There still remains a huge problem with breeding, impulse buying of pets and general irresponsible behaviour that leaves many animals needing new homes and animal welfare organisations and others left to pick up the pieces. FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

3 4 5 6

Pet Food Manufacturer Association’s data: www.pfma.org.uk/overall/pet-ownership.htm Information gathered from the websites of the following animal welfare organisations in the UK: RSPCA, Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the Mayhew Animal Home, Dogs Trust, the Blue Cross, Cats Protection and the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. www.cats.org.uk/workwedo/howwework.asp www.dogstrust.org.uk www.uspca.co.uk www.scottishspca.org

Figure 1: Number of animals rehomed in the UK by animal welfare organisations, 2007 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 RSPCA

USPCA5

Cats Protection3 Dogs Trust

SSPCA6

4

Data source: RSPCA, Cats Protection, Dogs Trust, USPCA and SSPCA.

Figure 2: Number of unwanted animals taken into the care of the RSPCA, 2003–2007 80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Animals rehomed Healthy animals euthanased Total number of animals entering RSPCA care Data source: RSPCA.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 61


The number of non-microchipped cats and dogs taken into RSPCA care

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Microchipping is an inexpensive way of ensuring permanent identification of pet animals and being able to link animals to their owners. Although a dog owner has a legal requirement to ensure that their dog while on a highway or in a public place wears a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on it1, there is no legal requirement for a dog to be microchipped and there is no equivalent legislation for cats. Collars and tags are an important but unreliable method of identification – collars can break and ID tags can fall off or be taken off the dog. It is much harder to reunite a dog with its owner by just relying on a collar and ID tag. When fitted with a microchip, dogs, especially, are more likely to be reunited with their owner if they become lost. The RSPCA believes that all cats and dogs should be fitted with a microchip and that microchipping should be encouraged as part of responsible pet ownership.

Microchipping is a simple procedure where a small ‘chip’, the size of a grain of rice, is inserted under the skin between animal’s shoulder blades. The microchip bears a unique code number that is entered onto a national database alongside the owner’s details. A hand-held scanner, carried by RSPCA inspectors, vets, animal centres and local authority dog wardens, can then read the details of the microchip if a lost, injured or dead animal is found. Every year, the RSPCA, other animal welfare organisations, vets, police and local authorities handle a large number of animals that are reported as strays, are sick or injured, have become trapped or have wandered from their owners. They also deal with reports of dogs and other animals that are lost or may have been stolen. Many animals are never reunited with their owners, often because the owner or pet cannot be identified. In 2007, only half of all dogs identified as strays in the UK by local authorities were returned to their owners (see page 29). If all of these dogs had been microchipped, many more are likely to have been returned to their owners, or at least their owners could have been located. Microchips are most commonly used in cats, dogs and equines, but can also be used on smaller animals such as rabbits, ferrets and birds. This method of identification is a requirement of the Horse and Pet Passport schemes2, however there is no legal obligation for pets to be microchipped if they are not going to be taken out of the UK. Microchipping can help with proving ownership of an animal and can be very useful when dealing with incidents of pet theft, straying animals and cruelty, and is one of the most reliable methods of tracing pets or their owners. In 2007, the Petlog3 reunification service assisted with more than 89,000 lost and found telephone calls from people who had either lost their animal or had found animals that were microchipped. Of course this is very much reliant on pet owners keeping their details up to date on the relevant databases. Sweden is a good example of where responsible dog ownership and microchipping has resulted in the country having limited problems with unwanted dogs and straying animals. Unlike the UK and most other European countries, in Sweden it is a legal requirement for all dogs to be registered and permanently identified from four months of age4, with microchipping being the preferred method of identification. This has resulted in more than 90 per cent of dogs that have strayed, and/or are not accompanied by their owners, being reunited with their owners within 24 hours. Although microchipping is not compulsory in the UK, many organisations are making concerted efforts to encourage pet owners to microchip their animals. Every June, the Kennel Club coordinates National Microchipping Month5 throughout the UK in an endeavour to

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

62 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

promote microchipping and to encourage responsible pet ownership. The RSPCA, and other animal welfare organisations, councils and vets also organise events where microchipping is offered at discounted rates or even free of charge. The RSPCA promotes microchipping as the preferred method of animal identification, specifically through its rehoming efforts, as every animal leaving the care of the RSPCA is fitted with a microchip unless it already has one. The RSPCA also offers a welfare microchipping service that is carried out at the request of pet owners at RSPCA animal centres, hospitals, clinics and individual RSPCA branches.

microchipping or perhaps thought it was not important. However, to try and put these figures into context, Figure 4 demonstrates the amount of welfare microchipping that is carried out by the RSPCA on the request of cat and dog owners and by RSPCA microchipping initiatives. Since 2004 the number of owned animals being microchipped by the RSPCA has dramatically increased. In 2004, 6,669 owned cats and dogs were microchipped and this rose to 27,985 in 2007. This equates to a rise of more than 400 per cent.

The indicator figures This indicator aims to establish if the microchipping message is being effectively communicated and understood by owners and keepers of pet animals. It will help to assess whether more needs to be done by local authorities, vets, breeders and welfare organisations in promoting the benefits of microchipping as a part of responsible pet ownership. Although the majority of animal welfare organisations and rehoming centres microchip animals before they leave their care and promote microchipping via publications and websites, it is still difficult to establish the extent of the microchipping work that each organisation is carrying out as there is no central method of collating this data. Therefore, the information used for this indicator primarily focuses on the cats and dogs the RSPCA microchips as they leave its care and enter new homes. Figure 3 shows that the majority of cats and dogs that came into the care of the RSPCA over a four-year period, were without a microchip. In 2006 just 16 per cent of cats and dogs were already microchipped, however this figure has increased to 21 per cent in 2007. These statistics suggest that the microchipping message is slowly, but surely, being taken on board by animal owners with more people understanding the benefits of microchipping. Although the figures are positive the vast majority of cats and dogs (around 80 per cent) are still not microchipped when they come into the care of the RSPCA for rehoming. It can perhaps be assumed that someone who gives up their cat or dog is perhaps less likely to have had their pet microchipped because they have not considered the long-term impact of pet ownership, did not know about

Figure 3: Number of microchipped and nonmicrochipped cats and dogs entering the RSPCA, 2004–2007 30,000

25,000

20,000

15,000

10,000

5,000

0

Dogs Cats 2004

Dogs Cats 2005

Microchipped

Dogs Cats 2006

Dogs Cats 2007

Non-microchipped

Data source: RSPCA.

IN 2007, ONLY HALF OF ALL DOGS IDENTIFIED AS STRAYS IN THE UK BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES WERE RETURNED TO THEIR OWNERS. IF ALL OF THESE DOGS HAD BEEN MICROCHIPPED, MANY MORE ARE LIKELY TO HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO THEIR OWNERS, OR AT LEAST THEIR OWNERS COULD HAVE BEEN LOCATED.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 63


Figure 4: Dog and cat welfare microchipping performed by the RSPCA, 2004–2007

Figure 5: Total number of cats and dogs registered each year on the Virbac, Identichip and Petlog databases, 2003–2007

30,000

1,000,000

25,000 750,000 20,000 15,000

500,000

10,000 250,000 5,000 0

2004

2005

2006

0

2007

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

Data source: Virbac, Identichip and Petlog.

In attempt to try and find out how pet owners in the UK are responding to microchipping messages, the four UK microchipping databases were approached to find out how many cats and dogs are being registered, and therefore microchipped each year. The databases contacted are Identichip6, Petlog7, Petrac8 and Virbac9. For the second year running, three out of four responded and provided microchipping figures for cats and dogs over the last five years. Figure 5 shows the total number of cats and dogs that have been microchipped and registered by the three schemes between 2003 and 2007. Over the past five years the total number of cats and dogs registered on the databases has increased by 23 per cent. In 2007, 35,000 more cats and dogs were microchipped than the previous year. This is likely to be due to increased public awareness and education about microchipping during national microchipping month and other events. Nationally, the number of

cats and dogs that are microchipped each year is rising, yet the number of microchipped cats and dogs entering RSPCA centres is remaining fairly low, indicating that while the microchipping message is getting through to some people, the overall responsible pet ownership message needs to be generally improved. There are about 7.2 and 7.3 million cats and dogs respectively in the UK, yet far more dogs were microchipped in 2007 than cats. This suggests that more targeted public awareness is needed to encourage owners to microchip their cats10. It also indicates that the status of cats within the UK is seen as lower than dogs, which may be because dogs are seen more as part of the family than cats and therefore owners have a more responsible attitude towards them. Ideally every cat and dog in the UK will be microchipped. Although more animals are being microchipped each year, the message is still not getting through to many animal owners.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

A badge or plate is also acceptable. Control of Dogs Order 1992, SI 1992/901, art 2 (1). EC Regulation 998/2003 of 13 June 2003 on the non-commercial movement of pets. www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/procedures/support-infor/guide.htm 3 www.thekennelclub.org.uk/caring/petlog 4 Stray Animal Control Practices (Europe). A report into the strategies for controlling stray dog and cat populations adopted in thirty-one countries. 2006–2007. RSPCA International and WSPA. 5 www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/578 6 ww1.identichip.co.uk 7 www.thekennelclub.org.uk/meet/petlog.html 8 www.avidplc.com/pettrac.asp 9 www.virbac-backhome.co.uk/pages/what.htm 10 In 2007, 492,107 dogs were registered on the three UK databases. Just 287,129 cats were registered during this period.

64 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

The number of healthy dogs being euthanased by the RSPCA due to irresponsible pet ownership

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Every year the RSPCA, vets, local authorities and other animal welfare organisations reluctantly carry out the humane destruction of healthy dogs that are no longer wanted and cannot be rehomed. Quite simply, there are not enough people available to rehome all the dogs waiting for new owners and some dogs cannot be rehomed for a variety of reasons including aggression and ill health. Irresponsible pet ownership can result in the humane destruction or euthanasia of healthy dogs (and many other pet animals). The RSPCA would like to see a future where no healthy pet animal is euthanased. This can only be achieved through animal owners and keepers adopting more responsible attitudes towards their pets.

Dogs are euthanased if they are sick, injured or a danger to the public, and this is carried out by trained operators such as vets using approved methods. Some healthy animals are also euthanased for non-medical reasons, such as when they cannot be found new homes or at the owners’ insistence because the animals are no longer wanted. In certain areas of the UK, the number of unwanted and stray dogs is so large there are not enough people able to offer them homes. The RSPCA uses different methods to aid rehoming of these unwanted animals including putting adverts in the local press and on websites, and transferring long-stay animals to different parts of the country. The transfer system relocates animals to centres around the country after three months, giving different members of the public an opportunity to view the dogs. When all possible methods of rehoming have been exhausted, a dog may be euthanased, however this always happens with great reluctance and only after everything has been done to find the dog a new owner. The RSPCA is opposed to the long-term confinement of animals, but it is sometimes inevitable, despite the devoted care given by staff, that distress and mental suffering can be caused to the animals concerned. Many unwanted dogs are purchased as puppies and are signed over to the RSPCA when they are between two and four years old. This can happen for a number of reasons including owners becoming bored of the dog once it’s an adult, owners being unable to cope with behavioural problems caused by inadequate training, and owners failing to make long-term plans for the care of the dog. The number of healthy dogs put to sleep could be reduced with a combination of simple, practical actions. Microchipping would assist with locating pet owners and could reduce the number of strays. Neutering of dogs could prevent unwanted pregnancies and help control the size of the dog population. The provision of suitable information and guidance from pet sellers could also improve the welfare of the animal concerned. These activities would potentially reduce the number of unwanted animals and therefore reduce the need to euthanase healthy animals.

THE NUMBER OF HEALTHY DOGS BEING EUTHANASED HAS INCREASED.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 65


The indicator figures This indicator measures the number of healthy dogs the RSPCA has to euthanase each year. The total number of healthy dogs euthanased each year in the UK is likely to be a lot higher, however there is no easy way to find out what this figure is. Local authorities, vets (at the owners’ request), and some animal welfare organisations will euthanase unwanted healthy dogs, but these statistics are not widely available or collected nationally. A search of other animal welfare organisations’ websites and annual reviews could not find any figures on the euthanasia of the dogs that are taken into their care. At the beginning of 2006 and 2007, the RSPCA wrote to each local authority in England and Wales in an attempt to determine how many stray animals end up in their care and how many of these animals are euthanased. In 2008, the survey was extended to cover Northern Ireland and Scotland. In an attempt not to duplicate figures collected by the Dogs Trust 1, which commissions a local authority survey throughout the UK about the number of stray animals it euthanases each year, the RSPCA utilised the Freedom of Information Act 2000. A number of questions were asked about dogs that were euthanased for medical and non-medical reasons, as previous studies have never separated this data. Between April 2006 and March 2007, a RSPCA local authority survey revealed that 6,328 dogs were euthanased by local authorities in the UK2. Of these, 2,526 were euthanased on medical grounds, 1,101 were euthanased after a seven-day period on non-medical grounds, and there was no explanation for the remaining 2,701 dogs. Further data was obtained from the Welsh Assembly Members Research Service in 20063, which contacted each local authority in Wales and requested information about the number of dogs ‘put down’ between April 2005 and March 2006. A total of 281 dogs were euthanased during this 12-month period. There is no distinction between healthy and non-healthy dogs. Figure 6 shows the number of healthy dogs the RSPCA has had to euthanase over the past five years. In 2003, 1,095 healthy dogs were euthanased by the RSPCA compared to 2007 when 1,230 dogs were euthanased. Between 2006 and 2007, the number of healthy dogs euthanased has increased by 167 dogs or 15.7 per cent. The percentage increase seems fairly large, however in real terms the number of dogs being euthanased by the RSPCA is still relatively low when compared to the number of dogs the RSPCA rehomes – 15,787 dogs were rehomed in England and Wales during 2007. This euthanasia figure is still unacceptable, as ideally no healthy dog will be euthanased by the RSPCA, local authorities or

66 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Figure 6: Number of healthy dogs being euthanased by the RSPCA, 2003–2007 1,500

1,200

900

600

300

0

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

any other organisation. It is hoped that with more public awareness responsible pet ownership campaigns promoting the benefits of neutering and microchipping, the number of animals euthanased will decrease until ultimately there is a home available for every healthy animal in the UK.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

2 3

The Dogs Trust survey doesn’t distinguish between dogs that have been euthanased for medical reasons and healthy animals: www.dogstrust.org.uk/press_office/stray-dog-survey-2007 See page 29 for more information. Members Research Service enquiry. Dogs put down in Wales 2005–2006. 15 November 2006. National Assembly for Wales.


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

WELFARE INDICATOR:

The number of organised animal fights

in the UK

RSPCA concern

Background

Animal fighting, that is pitting one animal against another, is viewed by the RSPCA as one of the most barbaric areas of animal cruelty. Although UK animal baiting and animal fighting legislation was first introduced in 18351, and subsequently up-to-date laws that protect animals such as badgers2 have followed, there is still grave concern about such activities continuing. Organised animal fighting activities are deliberate, calculated, and by their very nature cause a great deal of unnecessary suffering to the animals involved. The RSPCA and other agencies are working to combat these barbaric activities in an attempt to see the eradication of all forms of organised animal fighting within the UK.

Traditionally, animal fighting has been clandestine and covert and therefore extremely difficult to combat. The RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit investigates three main areas of animal fighting involving dogs, cockerels and badgers3. I Dog fighting Dog fighting usually involves a large number of people coming together to ‘pit’ one fighting dog against another, with large amounts of money being placed as bets on the outcome of the fight. However, other more impromptu, less organised fights take place, for example in public parks. The dogs used in organised fights are almost exclusively American pit bull terriers, a breed that is banned in the UK by the Dangerous Dogs Act 19914. The fights take place in a pit, constructed to a size and standard recognised by the dog fighting fraternity, with the dogs being fought according to strict rules enforced by a referee. The fights can vary in length from a matter of minutes to a couple of hours and dogs may suffer from a large number of bite wounds. The owner of the dog will probably treat these injuries and any subsequent infection. Treatments will include suturing wounds and administrating steroids and antibiotics. It is unlikely the dogs will be taken for veterinary treatment because of the breed of dog involved and the nature of the injuries inflicted on the dogs. I Cock-fighting Cock-fighting usually involves a large number of people watching and betting on fighting cockerels in a pit area with a referee enforcing strict rules. The birds are conditioned to fight and may have the natural spurs on their feet sharpened so as to inflict the maximum damage to their opponents, other cockerels. Alternatively the natural spurs may have been removed and replaced with sharpened 5cm steel spikes, which are fitted and bound to the birds’ legs. Bouts may last anything from a few seconds to one hour. Often one of the birds is killed and many others receive severe injuries. I Badger digging/baiting

THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN REPORTS AND CONVICTIONS FOR ANIMAL FIGHTING.

Badger digging is carried out by small groups of people and involves terrier dogs entering badger setts to locate and corner badgers deep in the tunnels of the sett. The dogs usually wear electronic transmitter collars that provide a signal, which the diggers can detect on the surface of the sett. When a dog has cornered a badger the signal will become stationary and the diggers can then dig down to where the dog and badger are located, irreparably damaging the badger sett in the process.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 67


At this time both the dog and the badger are likely to receive severe bite injuries because a badger will fight fiercely when cornered. Once the diggers reach the dog and badger, both will be removed from the sett. The badger may then be killed with a knife or a spade. On other occasions the badger may be set free on the surface and several dogs set upon it to kill it, with the badger often suffering a slow and painful death. More organised baiting of badgers also takes place with badgers taken away from the sett and baited in a pit with several dogs attacking it at once. The badger is not the only animal that suffers, as the dogs involved will receive serious bite injuries, which may be treated by the owners rather than receiving proper treatment from vets.

I Communication

The participants and organisers of animal fighting and animal baiting are often involved in other areas of serious criminality, especially those involved in dog fighting. Due to their criminal background and knowledge of investigative techniques, the perpetrators are difficult to trace and track, requiring investigators to employ specialist skills and techniques to bring them to justice. There are a number of factors that make investigating animal fighting extremely difficult.

It is extremely difficult to identify or profile the type of person who is involved in animal fighting because a ‘typical’ animal fighter cannot be identified by a particular socio-economic group, race, nationality or age.

I National and international boundaries Those involved are prepared to travel long distances to participate in their chosen area of animal fighting. Different enforcement agencies are required to coordinate investigations as police, county and international boundaries are crossed. Suspects crossing police force boundaries who are stopped/arrested are unlikely to be linked to any previous offences in other police force areas. I Animal injuries Animals that have been used in fighting will often have distinctive injuries. Therefore owners will not take them for veterinary treatment as this could raise suspicion about the source of the injuries. Consequently animals are treated by their owners so it is rare for vets to see animals that have been used in fighting.

With advanced communication networks such as mobile phone technology and the internet, it is now easier for information to be transferred undetected. New factions of animal fighters are constantly emerging, as access to information becomes more available and international travel becomes easier. I Prosecution It appears that animal fighting participants are willing to risk being prosecuted. The current penalties/sentences do not seem to be a deterrent, as there are many repeat offenders. I Profile

Due to the difficult nature of getting information on the perpetrators of animal fighting, investigations are extremely costly and the cost of bringing cases before the courts is also very high. In terms of RSPCA manpower, the time, specialised training and equipment required, makes the cost per conviction higher than any other area of the RSPCA inspectorate’s investigative work. Typical operation costs involved in prosecuting animal fighting include: investigators’ man-hours, prosecution costs, dog boarding costs, veterinary fees, expert witness fees and legal fees. Animal fighting, despite being prohibited for many years, still occurs in the UK. This is an important welfare indicator because of the intentional cruelty and the suffering it causes, and due to the fact that long-established laws are still being broken. Dog fighting in particular has cross-border implications where information, techniques and even dogs work at an international level. Many countries with their own animal fighting problems look to the UK, with its long legislative history and status as a country of animal lovers, to help solve the problem, yet the problem still exists in the UK.

THIS IS AN IMPORTANT WELFARE INDICATOR BECAUSE OF THE INTENTIONAL CRUELTY AND THE SUFFERING IT CAUSES, AND DUE TO THE FACT THAT LONG-ESTABLISHED LAWS ARE STILL BEING BROKEN.

68 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

The indicator figures Establishing the scale of the animal fighting problem in the UK is extremely difficult due to the criminal and covert element of the activities. Unlike many other areas of animal cruelty that are openly reported to the RSPCA’s cruelty and advice line5, relatively few complaints are received from the general public about animal fighting. With other types of animal cruelty, reporting issues to the RSPCA can be seen as a good indication of how big a problem is, but unfortunately with animal fighting this is not the case. Figure 7 identifies the number of reports of animal fighting the Society received between 2004 and 2007. In 2007, the RSPCA received more than one million telephone calls to its cruelty and advice line and investigated 137,245 cruelty complaints, yet received just 531 complaints about animal fighting. Since 2004, reports of dog fighting have increased from 24 to 358 in 2007, and have nearly trebled since 2006. There are a number of reasons why more calls were received in 2007 than in the previous four years including the widely publicised tragic death of five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson in Liverpool who was killed by an illegally owned pit bull-type dog. In addition the UK’s first pit bull amnesty took place in Northern Ireland during January 2007 and two high-profile dog fighting cases in the West Midlands area may have prompted more reports as the public became more aware of dog fighting and dangerous dog offences. Of the 137 reports of dog fighting in 2006, and 358 in 2007, 82 and 132 of these respectively were related to instances where youths or ‘hoodies’6 were reported fighting dogs in public areas such as on streets or in parks. Often the dogs involved are so-called ‘status’ dogs. The term status dog is often used by the media to refer to dogs associated with young people and used in aggressive or intimidating ways towards the public and other animals. The dogs involved tend to be tough looking dogs such as pit bull-type dogs, Staffordshire bull terriers and mastiffs. The RSPCA’s figures are backed up by Metropolitan Police figures, which show a massive increase in the number of dogs seized in London under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Between 2003 and 2006, the numbers averaged out to about 38 dogs a year. This increased to 173 between May 2006 and April 2007 and leapt to 480 in the 12 months up to April 2008. Of the total figures, about 80 per cent of the dogs are pit bull-types, with the remainder being dogs that are dangerously out of control7. The RSPCA produced a leaflet and poster in 2006 encouraging owners of status dogs to provide adequate care for their dogs and highlighting the legislation that protects dogs such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Control of Dogs Order 1992. The RSPCA is extremely

Figure 7: Reports of animal fighting given to the RSPCA, 2004–2007 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0

2004

2005

2006

2007

Dog fighting

Cockfighting

Badger digging/baiting

Badger sett interference

Data source: RSPCA.

Figure 8: Successful convictions for animal fighting obtained by the RSPCA, 2004–2007 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

2004

2005

2006

2007

Protection of Animals Act 1911

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Cockfighting Act 1952

Protection of Badgers Act 1992

Animal Welfare Act 2006 Data source: RSPCA.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 69


concerned that more reported incidents of dog fighting seem to involve young people in public places. In February 2008, the Society became involved with a new education initiative the People With Dogs Project8, which is aimed at reducing intimidating and anti-social behaviour on London’s streets. In an attempt to try and identify the scale of animal fighting, Figure 8 shows the number of successful animal fighting convictions between 2004 and 2007 9. It is useful to look at the number of convictions, as this demonstrates that animal fighting acts are still taking place and perpetrators are being caught, however it does not clearly represent the true scale of the problem. More convictions in a given year does not necessarily mean the problem is worsening, it could just mean more people were caught or many people were involved at one event and subsequently convicted. Conversely, if the

number of convictions dropped, this isn’t necessarily a sign that fighting is occurring less, as it could simply mean those involved are not being caught. With regard to dog fighting convictions, there can be a big difference between the number of cases reported and the number of convictions because of the delays in bringing the cases to court. It is possible for a large number of convictions to take place in a year although the relevant arrests occurred the previous year. Organised animal fighting is a continuing problem and it is extremely challenging to measure how big the issue is, which makes it difficult to statistically gauge whether animal fighting is increasing or decreasing. However, with new types of dog fighting factions appearing, more reports of incidents and a higher number of convictions, it must be concluded that animal fighting, especially dog fighting, is increasing.

THE RSPCA’S FIGURES ARE BACKED UP BY METROPOLITAN POLICE FIGURES, WHICH SHOW A MASSIVE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF DOGS SEIZED IN LONDON UNDER THE DANGEROUS DOGS ACT 1991.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5 6

7 8

9

An Act to consolidate and amend the several laws relating to the cruel and improper treatment of animals and the mischiefs arising from the driving of cattle (Pease’s Act) 1835. The Protection of Badgers Act 1992. (Consolidating the Badgers Act 1973, the Badgers Act 1991 and the Badgers [Further Protection] Act 1991). Although badgers and cockerels are not pet animals, it is important to include them when discussing animal fighting. Section 1, Dangerous Dog Act 1991. The RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty and advice line number is: 0300 1234 999. The terms ‘hoody’ and ’hoodies’ are common phrases used to describe young people that wear hooded jackets or jumpers, and is used by members of the public when reporting possible incidents of animal cruelty involving young people. Metropolitan Police figures refer specifically to the year this number of dogs left the police system. The project brings together three well-known animal charities (Battersea Dogs Home, The Blue Cross and the RSPCA) with the Greater London Authority, the Metropolitan Police and Wandsworth Council. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into force in April 2007 and therefore just one conviction occurred under the Act. In subsequent years, it is expected that this figure will rise.

70 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

The number of animal welfare complaints investigated by RSPCA inspectors

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

In 2007, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 came into force. The new legislation updates the 95-year-old Protection of Animals Act 1911 and consolidates more than 20 pieces of animal welfare legislation. One of the most important aspects of the new laws is the introduction of the welfare offence1. This imposes a duty on any person who is responsible for an animal to take such steps that are reasonable in all circumstances to ensure the needs of that animal are met to the extent of good practice1. Under the previous legislation people were only prosecuted for cruelty to animals once there was sufficient evidence that unnecessary suffering had already occurred. This could mean that animals endured long-lasting suffering or, in extreme cases, died. With the changes in law, action can now be considered and where necessary taken, beyond just giving advice, before suffering or cruelty has occurred to the animal. For the first time, the RSPCA and other agencies are able to help prevent an animal enduring unnecessary suffering. It is hoped that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA) and Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 together with animal owners taking a more responsible attitude towards their animals will prevent many animals from suffering unnecessarily.

The specific needs of an animal can vary both between and within species. Until March and April 2007 (prior to the new law coming into effect into Wales and England respectively), the RSPCA used a standardised measurement system to assess the welfare needs of the animals the Society was investigating. This was implemented under its welfare assessment form that was first used in 2005. RSPCA inspectors used the form every time they visited a home, farm or other establishment, to identify any animal welfare concerns. The form consisted of a checklist that expanded on a set of principles known as the Five Freedoms. The Five Freedoms are: I

Freedom from hunger and thirst.

I

Freedom from discomfort.

I

Freedom from pain, injury and disease.

I

Freedom to express normal behaviour.

I

Freedom from fear and distress.

Once a welfare assessment of an animal was made and if problems were identified, such as a dog did not have access to clean drinking water or was thin but not malnourished (that is, was not suffering unnecessarily), the RSPCA inspector would offer advice about how to rectify the situation. This would hopefully prevent the problem from worsening and developing into a more serious cruelty case. For example, advice would be given about how to provide a dog with a nutritionally adequate diet and allow access to clean water. Under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, animal owners were under no legal obligation to follow the advice given and could choose to ignore it. The inspector would revisit the animal to see if improvements had been made and whether or not the advice had been followed – in the majority of cases improvements would have been made. However there were incidents where the situation had worsened and the animal(s) would be found to be suffering unnecessarily. In such instances, more serious legal action may have been appropriate.

FURTHER ANNUAL DATA ARE REQUIRED.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 71


With the introduction of the AWA in England and Wales, RSPCA inspectors still give advice if welfare problems are identified. However, the welfare offence means they are now able to consider taking legal action before unnecessary suffering (or cruelty) has occurred. The RSPCA’s welfare assessment form has been modified to reflect the new offence and set out new provisions such as the need for a suitable environment. Since April 2007, once an inspector has seen an animal that has given cause for concern, an RSPCA improvement notice is issued with a set timescale or compliance period for positive changes to take place. This notice is effectively a warning (although it has no statutory weight) to the person responsible for the animal that they need to take action to address the welfare needs of their animal. If they fail to take heed of the notice and make no attempts to improve the welfare of the animal in question, then a prosecution (welfare offence) under the AWA may follow. Ideally, if a welfare concern is raised then with advice and guidance, improvements will be made without the need for legal action.

The indicator figures In 2007, the RSPCA investigated about 137,000 complaints of alleged cruelty to animals, the majority of which were pet animals. Figure 9 demonstrates an increase of about 10.5 per cent in the number of complaints that were investigated from the previous year, similar to the 11 per cent growth between 2005 and 2006. Although the number of cruelty complaints investigated has increased by around 15,000 the level of telephone calls from the public to the RSPCA cruelty and advice line has remained fairly static with about 1.2 million calls being received each year over the past two years. With more complaints being followed up, it is not surprising that about six per cent more RSPCA welfare improvement notices were issued in 2007 than the previous year. This could indicate a number of things: that inspectors were seeing more animals living in conditions where their welfare needs were not being adequately met, but the animals were not legally suffering; that inspectors are naturally issuing more welfare improvement notices

WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 2006 IN ENGLAND AND WALES, RSPCA INSPECTORS STILL GIVE ADVICE IF WELFARE PROBLEMS ARE IDENTIFIED. HOWEVER, THE WELFARE OFFENCE MEANS THEY ARE NOW ABLE TO CONSIDER TAKING LEGAL ACTION BEFORE UNNECESSARY SUFFERING (OR CRUELTY) HAS OCCURRED.

72 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


PET ANIMAL INDICATORS

as they become accustomed to using them following the introduction of the AWA; or it could suggest that RSPCA inspectors have become more efficient. The conclusion that cannot be made is that more animals are not having their welfare needs adequately met. Any rise in complaints could suggest there is more awareness about who to contact if it is believed an animal is suffering, especially considering the high levels of publicity surrounding the introduction of the AWA. From 2007, the change in law means that in cases where the improvement notice and advice is not adhered to then a prosecution can be brought. Ideally, nobody would be prosecuted under the welfare offence of the AWA. It is hoped that over the coming years the number of animal welfare complaints will reduce as owners become more aware of their animals’ needs due to improved education and awareness.

Figure 9: Animal welfare complaints received by the RSPCA and number of RSPCA improvement notices issued, 2005–2007 150,000

Complaints investigated RSPCA improvement notices

120,000

90,000

60,000

30,000

0

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

IT IS HOPED THAT OVER THE COMING YEARS THE NUMBER OF ANIMAL WELFARE COMPLAINTS WILL REDUCE AS OWNERS BECOME MORE AWARE OF THEIR ANIMALS’ NEEDS DUE TO IMPROVED EDUCATION AND AWARENESS.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

Animal Welfare Act 2006, section 9.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 73


FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

3

4 5

6 7

8 9 10

11 12

PIC CREDITS: BIDDA JONES/RSPCA PHOTOLIBRARY, PENNY HAWKINS, NOVO NORDISK, JANE COOPER, ANDREW FORSYTH/THE WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER

74 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

13

Home Office (2007). Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2006. London: HMSO. European Commission (2007). Fifth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 2005). Brussels. The 3Rs are Replacement (the use of methods that avoid or replace the use of animals wherever possible); Reduction (minimising the numbers of animals used – for example, through improving the experimental design and statistical analysis used in a study); and Refinement (improving experimental procedures, and other factors affecting animals such as their housing and care, in order to reduce suffering and improve welfare throughout their lives). See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/home_en.htm Since 2002, scientific staff from the RSPCA’s research animals department have provided expert input into the revision process at various stages and on a range of issues, often on behalf of Eurogroup for Animals. The RSPCA is lobbying for many changes to the Directive. These include: extension of the Directive to cover all research that may cause animals to suffer and a clearly defined and effective system of licensing, control and inspection for all EU member states. This must incorporate an ethical evaluation of animal use including a harm/benefit assessment that takes into account the lifetime experience of the animals. A system of local and national ethical review processes must also be an integral part of a licensing process as must the requirement for greater focus on the 3Rs of reduction, refinement and replacement. See: http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/better-regulation/ RSPCA scientific staff had substantial input into developing the standards within Appendix A of ETS123. See: www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-operation/biological_safety, _use_of_animals/laboratory_animals/Revision%20of%20Appendix%20A.asp#TopOfPage See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/pdf/declaration_nhp_en.pdf See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm The RSPCA and Eurogroup for Animals, along with other organisations, achieved significant amendments to the EC proposals, which will see many animal tests now replaced without compromising safety, by making better use of existing information, wider development and use of non-animal methods and compulsory sharing of data between companies. See: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11970 Assessment of chemicals would be based on the use of in vitro tests to detect effects on specific biochemical pathways known to be involved in toxicity, and the testing would be assisted by robotics and computer methods. See: www.nc3rs.org.uk/news.asp?id=829


INTRODUCTION RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

Estimates of the number of animals used across the world each year in research and testing usually range between 50 and 100 million. Official statistics released during 2007 show that this includes close to three million animals used in the UK1, with more than 12 million used across the 25 European Union (EU) member states2. If progress is to be achieved in safeguarding the welfare of animals in laboratories, reducing their use, and replacing animal experiments with humane alternatives, action is needed not only at national, but also at international level. Given the increasingly global nature of science and industry, the use of animals in one country, (such as the UK) can be profoundly influenced by the legal requirements, guidelines and scientific developments in other countries. For example, a pharmaceutical company based in the UK will have to carry out animal tests according to the legal requirements of all the countries in which it wishes to market a new medicine. As a member of the EU, the UK must take particular account of European laws and standards, and work to improve them. The international dimension offers both challenges and opportunities for improving the welfare of animals used in science. Legislation regulating the use of animals in experiments can vary widely between different countries, and reaching agreement on harmonised controls on experimentation is difficult, even within the EU. On the other hand, organisations such as the International Conference on Harmonisation, and the World Congresses on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, provide platforms for introducing improvements to animal welfare and test methods worldwide. The importance of the international dimension is reflected in the following list of important events of 2007 relating to the use of animals in experiments. ■ The 6th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, held in Tokyo, provided a platform for more than 900 delegates from countries across the globe to exchange ideas and knowledge relating to implementation of the 3Rs3. ■ The revision of European Directive 86/609 that regulates laboratory animal care and use across the EU continued4 5. A draft version of the Directive is, at the time of writing, under discussion between the Council of Ministers and European Parliament. ■ The UK government has been undertaking a general

review of how European legislation is transposed in the UK, with a view to reducing unnecessary administrative burden6. In relation to the regulation of animal experiments, the Home Office has established a steering group of the major stakeholders that has been considering possible changes to current practices. The RSPCA is represented, and argues that any changes made must not have a detrimental effect on animal welfare, weaken the legislation or reduce public accountability. ■ The revised and improved Council of Europe Convention ETS123 guidelines for the housing and care of laboratory animals entered into force7. It is important that these standards are now incorporated into the Directive. ■ Members of the European Parliament backed a declaration8 calling for an end to the use of great apes and wild-caught primates in research in Europe, and a clear strategy for replacing all primate experiments with humane alternatives. ■ New EU laws regulating the way in which the safety of chemicals is assessed came into force. Under REACH9 (Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) companies have to provide the authorities with information on the health and environmental effects of about 30,000 chemicals. In spite of the introduction into REACH of a number of measures to reduce animal testing, put forward by the RSPCA and Eurogroup for Animals, this legislation could result in the use of millions of animals in safety tests10. ■ The US National Research Council published a landmark report11 on the future of toxicity testing. Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy states its vision of toxicity testing carried out largely (but not entirely) without the use of animals12. ■ It was announced13 that annual government funding for the UK’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) will be increased to just over £5 million by 2010/11. Meanwhile, the European Commission approved €23m (currently £18m) funding under its 7th Framework Research Programme for two major research projects aimed at developing non-animal methods for the testing of new medicines.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 75


The number of non-human primates used in scientific procedures in the UK

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

The use of primates in research and testing is a matter of particular concern to the RSPCA and public generally. This concern has been recognised at a governmental 1 and regulatory level, with some countries making special provisions for primates in their legislation – for example, either implementing specific bans 2 or emphasising the need to replace and reduce primate experiments 3. The RSPCA believes that the special nature of primates means that ending their use is a legitimate and essential goal, which governments, regulators, industry, scientists and research funders worldwide should accept and make a high priority. The Society would like to see the indicator figures showing significant reductions over successive years.

In the UK about 3,000 non-human primates (mostly marmosets and macaques) are used in research and testing every year 4. Across the European Union (EU) this figure is around 10,000 5. Much of this use is for developing or testing the safety and effectiveness of medicines and vaccines, but primates are also used in biological research, for example in studies into brain function and behaviour. Non-human primates are highly intelligent sentient animals. They form intricate social relationships, interact with their environment in a dynamic and complex way and engage in imaginative problem solving. It is also widely accepted that primates can experience a range of negative emotions (e.g. anxiety, apprehension, fear, frustration, boredom and mental stress) as well as a range of positive emotions (e.g. interest, pleasure, happiness and excitement). In short, they are very close to humans in their biology and capabilities, and it is often argued that this makes them ideal ‘models’ for research. However, this also means that primates have the capacity to suffer in similar ways to humans – there can be no question that primates experience pain and distress. Confining primates in the laboratory when they would normally live in a large and complex home range has a significant adverse effect on their welfare. At its best, laboratory primate housing represents only a small fraction of their home range. The worst, still commonly used in many countries, is a small, barren metal box in which the animals can only take a few steps in any direction. Other aspects of the lifetime experience of laboratory primates also cause stress and suffering, particularly where they cannot control their environment, social grouping or what is done to them 6. Any pain or distress associated with experimental procedures is therefore compounded by additional adverse effects resulting from the capture of wild primates, breeding practices, transport, housing, husbandry, identification, restraint, and finally, euthanasia.

CONFINING PRIMATES IN THE LABORATORY WHEN THEY WOULD NORMALLY LIVE IN A LARGE AND COMPLEX HOME RANGE HAS A THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

76 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE EFFECT ON THEIR WELFARE.


RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

Figure 1: The number of primates used in scientific procedures in the UK, 2003–2007

3,000

2003

2004

2006

2007

Figure 2: The number of primates used in scientific procedures in the EU, 1999, 2002 and 2005

2005

1999

2002

2005

10,000

2,500

8,000

2,000 6,000 1,500 4,000 1,000 2,000

500 0

Prosimians

New world monkeys

Old world monkeys

Great apes

Data source: Home Office.

0

Prosimians

New world monkeys

Old world monkeys

Great apes

Data source: European Commission.

Note: (i) the above figures represent the number of individual animals used in licensed procedures for the first time during the course of the year in question (e.g. an animal used for the first time in 2005 and then reused in 2006, will only appear in the total for 2005). (ii) the EU figures for 1999 and 2002 relate to 1 5 member countries, whilst the figure for 2005 also includes the data for the 1 0 new ascension states, thus now covering data for 25 EU members for the first time. However, with regard to the impact on trends of primate use of adding data for these 1 0 new EU member states, it should be noted that they were responsible for the use of just 57 of the total 10,4 43 primates used in 2005.

In September 2007, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) categorically backed a declaration 7 that called for an end to the use of great apes and wild-caught primates in research in Europe, and a clear strategy for replacing all primate experiments with humane alternatives. This is an important statement, given that the European Directive regulating the use of animals in experiments across the European Union is currently under revision 8. It also reflects the principles set out in a resolution 9 initiated by the RSPCA in 2005, and backed by animal protection organisations worldwide.

The indicator figures The number of primates used in the UK and Europe are reported in Home Office and EU official publications respectively. The UK figures are published annually, but in the EU they are only made available every three years. Accurate figures for most other countries are not

available. Data for Figure 1 have been taken from Table 1a of the Home Office annual statistics publications, 2003–2007 (published 2004–2008). Data for Figure 2 have been taken from Table 1 . 1 of the third 1 0, fourth 1 1 and fifth 1 2 reports on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the EU (published by the European Commission in 2003, 2005 and 2007 respectively). The need for annual statistics to be published for the EU can be illustrated by looking at the data relating to the use of great apes. The official EU figures for 2002 and 2005 show no apes were used in scientific procedures in these years, perhaps leading some people to infer that none were used between these times either. However six chimpanzees were used in the Netherlands during 2004 1 3. This, and other important information, may go unreported where figures are only produced every three years.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 77


THE RSPCA BELIEVES THERE SHOULD BE AN IMMEDIATE, INTERNATIONALLY COORDINATED EFFORT, INVOLVING GOVERNMENTS, REGULATORS, INDUSTRY, SCIENTISTS AND RESEARCH FUNDERS, TO DEFINE A STRATEGY TO BRING ALL NON-HUMAN PRIMATE EXPERIMENTS TO AN END.

The available data show that the number of primates used in the UK has fluctuated over the past five years. The latest figures for the EU show that no significant downward trend is being achieved. The RSPCA believes there should be an immediate, internationally coordinated effort, involving governments, regulators, industry, scientists and research funders, to define a strategy to bring all non-human primate experiments to an end. This needs to incorporate the establishment of an effective European-wide mechanism for challenging

and assessing the justification for primate use, including full assessment and recognition of all of the harms to the primates involved, i.e. from acquisition and transport, confinement in the laboratory, and from scientific procedures and their after-effects. Since primate use is of such serious concern, there has to be a radical shift in thinking away from “how can we ensure we can continue to use them” to a more enlightened and humane approach of “what do we need to do to avoid their use”.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

3

4 5

6

7 8 9 10

11

12

13

78 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

For example: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/pdf/petitions_dir86_609.pdf The use of great apes in scientific procedures with the potential to cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm is not allowed in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK or Austria. Northern Ireland goes further and does not licence the use of any primate in invasive experiments. For example, the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986; and Council Decision (1989) on the European Convention for the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes [Official Journal of the European Communities]. Home Office (2008) Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2007. London: The Stationery Office. European Commission (2007). Fifth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 2005). Brussels. For example: The welfare of non-human primates used in research (2002) – Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare, European Commission, Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scah/out83_en.pdf See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/pdf/declaration_nhp_en.pdf See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/revision_en.htm ‘Call to end the use of non-human primates in biomedical research and testing from animal protection organisations worldwide’ Berlin, August 2005. See: www.rspca.org.uk/primates European Commission (2003). Third report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 1999). Brussels. European Commission (2005). Fourth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 2002). Brussels. European Commission (2007). Fifth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 2005). Brussels. See page 189 (‘Comment of the Dutch authorities’): European Commission (2007). Fifth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 2005). Brussels.


RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

WELFARE INDICATOR:

The amount of laboratory animal suffering

RSPCA concern

Background

The suffering of laboratory animals – its nature, level and duration – is a serious concern for animal welfare organisations, the public and everyone concerned with animal welfare. The RSPCA believes that, for as long as animals continue to be used in research and testing, the reduction of suffering is an important goal, with the aim being to avoid discomfort, pain, or distress altogether. An initial step should be to at least end substantial suffering. Progress in reducing animal suffering should already be being made, given that the concept of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) has been widely accepted within the research and regulatory community. However, it is not currently possible to gauge to what extent this is happening, because comprehensive information on the nature and level of suffering experienced by each animal is not available. Provision of such information would enable progress to be monitored and would help focus attention on areas of particular concern. Better reporting will also help to reduce suffering by assisting and encouraging those involved with animal use to improve animal welfare by becoming more effective in recognising, alleviating and preventing pain and distress. In addition, it will lead to greater openness and transparency regarding animal use.

The only centrally gathered and consistent sources of information on animal research and testing in the UK are the annual reports of the statistics on animal use published by the Home Office for England, Scotland and Wales 1 (and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland 2). These provide basic information on the species and numbers of animals used, but do not convey what the animals actually experienced in terms of the nature and level of suffering. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the statistics list the total number of research projects that fall under each of four severity ‘bands’ (mild, moderate, substantial or unclassified) 3. These bands are average assessments, which means that they usually cover a range of scientific procedures, with different levels of severity, involving different numbers of animals. Secondly, the severity bands are assigned before the research is conducted and are therefore only predictions of what might happen. Information on the animals’ actual levels of suffering is not gathered and reported at the end of each study. Until this information is collected and made available, there will be no way of knowing how much pain or distress is caused by animal experiments or whether the situation is improving 4. Recognising this problem, the Animal Procedures Committee (APC), which is the independent body that advises the government on the implementation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, began reviewing the current system for determining severity limits in 2004 5. It set up a working group, together with the Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA), to explore new ways of collecting and reporting data on animal use. The group produced a report 6 in December 2005 that proposed a ‘double code’ system of reporting. This would provide retrospective information, relating to individual animals, about the level and duration of (i) the maximum severity of a procedure and (ii) remaining severity over the rest of the procedure. In 2006, the APC and LASA jointly commissioned a more widely scoped pilot study to trial the new system and explore how such a scheme could be implemented in practice. Following the pilot study, the APC/LASA working group reported to the APC in December 2007. Five possible options for reporting severity were suggested, with the advantages and disadvantages defined for each. The group also recommended linking the severity data to the project licence abstracts currently published on the Home Office website 7, by ‘tagging’ the abstracts with severity category labels, to increase the information available to the public. The Home Office and working group agreed to work together to address some practical issues arising from the report and the APC is expecting the final report in the first half of 2009 8.

INSUFFICIENT DATA ARE AVAILABLE.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 79


The indicator figures The RSPCA wants to see a reporting system that will accurately convey the level of pain and distress experienced by each individual animal. The Society therefore supports the concept of retrospective reporting and believes that the official government statistics on animal use should record the number of animals who actually experienced suffering at the level of each of the mild, moderate, substantial or unclassified categories. Annual publication of such figures would provide a very basic indicator of whether laboratory animal suffering is increasing, decreasing or staying the same. Supplementary information would still be necessary to provide a fuller picture and so the Society also supports the APC recommendation that publicly available project licence abstracts

should be linked to retrospective severity data. However, data on animal numbers as outlined previously would represent a significant improvement over the current situation. It would also require a different approach to the gathering and publishing of the statistics 9. As part of the process of revising the European Directive that regulates the use of animals in experiments across the European Union (EU) 1 0, the European Commission is currently reviewing how statistics on animal use should be reported. The RSPCA believes that the current EU statistics are woefully inadequate and is asking that the new Directive includes a much more comprehensive and meaningful system of reporting animal use including the pain and distress they experience 1 1.

THE RSPCA BELIEVES THAT THE CURRENT EU STATISTICS ARE WOEFULLY INADEQUATE AND IS ASKING THAT THE NEW DIRECTIVE INCLUDES A MUCH MORE COMPREHENSIVE AND MEANINGFUL SYSTEM OF REPORTING ANIMAL USE INCLUDING THE PAIN AND DISTRESS THEY EXPERIENCE.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

Home Office (2008). Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2007. London: The Stationery Office. 2 Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2008). Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Northern Ireland 2007. Belfast: The Stationery Office. 3 Unclassified: The animal is used under anaesthesia, is not allowed to regain consciousness and is euthanased immediately after the experiment. 4 Smith J A and Jennings M on behalf of the Boyd Group and RSPCA (eds) (2004). Categorising the severity of scientific procedures on animals. Summary and reports from three round-table discussions. RSPCA Research Animals Department, Science Group: www.boyd-group.demon.co.uk/severity_report.pdf 5 Animal Procedures Committee (2005). Home Office: Animal Procedures Committee – Report of Statistics Working Group: www.apc.gov.uk/reference/stats-report270505.pdf 6 Smith J A (rapporteur). (2005). Reporting the severity of animal procedures retrospectively: Report of a LASA/APC pilot study to assess the feasibility of collecting and reporting data on the severity of adverse effects caused to animals used in procedures regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 : www.apc.gov.uk/reference/lasa-report.pdf 7 For abstracts, see: www.scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/publicationsand-reference/001-abstracts/ 8 See: www.apc.gov.uk/reference/December-10-2007-minutes.pdf 9 Reed B. (2004). RSPCA response to the Animal Procedures Committee consultation paper on the statistics of scientific procedures on living animals in Great Britain. RSPCA Research Animals Department, Science Group. 10 See: www.ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/revision_en.htm 11 For further information, see: www.rspca.org.uk/directive86609

80 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

The proportion of non-animal methods in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) test guidelines

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

In 2005, more than one million animals were used across the European Union (EU) in tests intended to evaluate the safety of products such as new medicines, pesticides and industrial chemicals 1. Many more animals are used for this purpose worldwide. The amount of suffering caused by these tests is highly variable and often unpredictable since new products may be harmless, or highly poisonous. Nevertheless, large numbers of animals, including primates and dogs, are kept in laboratory conditions, subjected to distressful dosing procedures, suffer some adverse effects from the test substances and, ultimately, are killed. The RSPCA believes that safety tests using animals must be replaced with humane alternative methods. To achieve this end, much more effort is needed to develop non-animal test methods and to accelerate their worldwide acceptance as alternatives to the existing methods using animals.

The vast majority of safety testing is done in such a way that the results will satisfy legal requirements for ensuring the safety of products for people and the environment. For some types of product, testing on animals is required by law, whereas in other cases the testing is done according to guidelines issued by regulatory authorities 2. Overall, it is the willingness of regulators to accept results from particular tests that determines whether animal or non-animal tests are used. A large number of different safety tests are used to detect or measure effects ranging from eye irritation to cancer. Tests vary in the species of animal used, the way in which animals are exposed to the product and the length of treatment. In an attempt to standardise the methods, various international bodies have produced sets of test guidelines. The most influential of these is the test guidelines (TGs) programme of the OECD 3 – the OECD TGs. If tests are done in accordance with OECD guidelines the results are ensured acceptance by regulators in the 30 member countries, and probably beyond. The methods apply to all chemical products, including pesticides and medicines. A great deal of effort continues to be put into the development of alternative, non-animal, methods of safety testing. However, progress in gaining regulatory acceptance of the new methods has been painfully slow. A complex and time-consuming system of validation has been developed by which new methods are shown to be reliable and relevant for their intended purpose. Even when successfully validated, alternative methods may not be accepted or only conditionally accepted by regulators, and then only after a number of years of discussion. The RSPCA promotes all stages of the development and acceptance of non-animal alternative methods. Acceptance into the OECD TGs can be regarded as the final step in this process for chemical products. Other sets of guidelines such as the European Pharmacopoeia 4 monographs would be more appropriate for biological products.

The indicator figures In the interests of simplicity, the proportion of ‘non-animal’ to ‘animal’ tests in the OECD guidelines is used as a guide to progress with the replacement of animals in toxicity testing. The indicator is expressed as the percentage of OECD TGs describing exclusively non-animal tests (Figure 3). The actual numbers of non-animal and animal test methods is shown in Figure 4. THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

I

The ultimate objective would be to see all the animal tests removed and replaced with non-animal tests, i.e. 1 00 per cent of TGs based on non-animal methods.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 81


I

An increase in the proportion of non-animal tests would be positive progress towards this objective.

In the two years since these data were first used as an indicator, only one new non-animal test has been accepted – an in vitro method for measuring the absorption of chemicals by the skin – and no animal tests have been deleted. In fact, in 2007 two new animal tests, one measuring effects on the developing nervous system and another for detecting the ability of chemicals to mimic female hormones, were introduced. This means that in comparison to data for the 1980s, the proportion of non-animal test methods has only increased overall very slightly, and has in fact decreased since last year. This is very disappointing for the RSPCA, particularly in view of the fact that since 2002 close to €100M has been invested by the EU in research on alternatives to animal tests.

Figure 3: Percentage of non-animal tests in OECD TGs, 2003–2007 25

20

15

10

5

0

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Figure 4: Number of OECD TGs using non-animal or animal methods, 2003–2007 Animal

60

Non-animal

50

40

30

20

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

2 3 4

European Commission (2007). Fifth report on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union (data for 2005). Brussels. For example, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP). www.oecd.org www.edqm.eu/site/News_and_General_Information-43.html

82 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

10

0

2003

2004

Data source for Figures 3 and 4: OECD.

2005

2006

2007


RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

The number of animals used in quality-control tests for release of veterinary vaccines in the UK

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Animals kept as companions, and those on farms or in zoos, are routinely vaccinated against common, often life-threatening, diseases 1. Some wildlife populations are also vaccinated. In addition to routine use, veterinary vaccines are also manufactured as an emergency stand-by in case they are needed to help control disease outbreaks such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease. European regulations require that batches of veterinary vaccines are subjected to a variety of tests, some of which involve animals, before they can be released onto the market. Some of the animals used in these tests experience considerable suffering and, overall, large numbers of animals are used. Thus, whilst vaccines help safeguard the health and welfare of many animals, this is only achieved at a considerable cost to other animals used in vaccine testing. This presents a difficult ethical dilemma. The RSPCA believes more can and should be done to resolve this dilemma, by means of a concerted effort to develop tests that will replace or avoid the use of animals, substantially reduce the level of suffering and reduce the numbers of animals used. The adoption of more humane test methods by regulators and manufacturers internationally also needs to be accelerated. Although some work is already going on in this area, it is difficult to assess its effect because information on the numbers of animals used and levels of suffering in the different types of test is not published regularly. Publication of these data is an essential first step in monitoring progress on this issue.

There are two main types of test that are performed on batches of veterinary vaccines – for potency (strength and effectiveness) and for safety. Some potency tests require animals to be infected with harmful bacteria or viruses, which can result in substantial suffering. For example, the potency test for Clostridium chauvoei vaccine (given routinely to sheep to protect against gas gangrene) involves injecting guinea pigs with bacteria, resulting in painful infections. The guinea pigs are usually euthanased to end their suffering. Such tests are of greatest concern, and it is important that efforts are concentrated on developing alternative methods to replace them that either do not involve animals or cause less suffering and use smaller numbers. For example, for many vaccines it is now possible to replace traditional, infection-based potency tests with less harmful methods, where the strength of the vaccine is assessed by measuring antibody levels in vaccinated animals. This reduces the level of suffering to test animals and fewer are needed. Until recently, regulations required that tests on animals had to be used to check the safety, as well as potency, of every batch of veterinary vaccine. Tests to assess safety can involve injecting animals with relatively large volumes of vaccine, which may cause discomfort or pain. Even when tests involve relatively mild procedures, these may involve housing animals in a laboratory environment that can, in itself, be a source of distress. However, the situation has changed and under certain conditions veterinary vaccine manufacturers can apply for permission to discontinue such tests 2. Manufacturers now have a clear opportunity to significantly reduce the numbers of animals used, and it is important that they seize this chance. In 2008 the RSPCA produced a scientific report 3, which takes a critical look at testing requirements for veterinary vaccines and explores the scope for application of the 3Rs. It is aimed at regulators, policy makers and vaccine manufacturers and if these parties take forward the report’s recommendations it will have a significant impact on the numbers and suffering of animals used. For example, the report recommends that particular tests should be discontinued; that the process of incorporating more humane tests into the regulations is speeded up; and that research efforts should focus on replacing or modifying tests that involve lethal infectious disease agents, to reduce the suffering of those animals involved. The RSPCA believes that there is considerable scope for a reduction in the number of animals used to test each batch of vaccine, for refinement of the tests to reduce suffering, and for the development of alternative test methods that do not require animals. This will require serious commitment from both regulatory authorities and manufacturers.

INSUFFICIENT DATA ARE AVAILABLE.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 83


The indicator figures

Figure 5: The average number of animals used per batch in quality control tests for veterinary vaccines across a range of products released in the UK, 2003

There is already some work being done to implement the 3Rs in veterinary vaccine testing, but it is difficult to assess the impact of this because the numbers of animals used and levels of suffering in the different types of test are not published regularly. Publication of these figures is essential to monitor future progress.

15

I

total number of animals used to test each batch of veterinary vaccine

I

number of animals used in different types of batch potency tests

I

number of animals used to test the safety of each batch

I

number of animals used in other batch tests 4.

In the UK, manufacturers must submit details of the methods and results of tests performed on each batch of vaccine to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) before the batch can be released. In 2005, the VMD released statistics relating to the number of animals used in tests for batch release in the UK during 2003. The data included the total numbers of animals used and batches released with a breakdown of how many animals had been used for each type of test. During 2003, quality control tests for release of batches into the UK involved the use of more than 3 1,000 animals 5. No data for subsequent years have been published. However, in 2007, Defra acknowledged 6 that making information available on the number of laboratory animals used in the production and regulatory testing of vaccines “…is necessary if government is to focus attention on priority areas for the development of alternatives to animal testing and to encourage a reduction in the use of laboratory animal and severity of testing for regulatory purposes”. Defra has since commissioned work to this end and the RSPCA is hopeful that more up-to-date data will be available for inclusion in next year’s report.

Average number of animals per batch

In particular it is important to be able to calculate the:

12

9

6

3

0

Potency tests

Safety tests

Other tests

2003 Note: The average number of animals used per batch in all tests = 28.2 (based on 31,047 animals used to test 1 ,10 1 batches). Data source: Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

3 4 5

6

84 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

For example, dogs are routinely vaccinated against canine distemper, cattle against cattle blackleg and pigs against swine pneumonia. Manufacturers can apply for permission to discontinue the batch safety test for a particular vaccine if 10 consecutive batches have previously passed the test and providing there have been no major changes to the manufacturing process. RSPCA (2008). Advancing animal welfare and the 3Rs in the batch testing of veterinary vaccines. RSPCA, Horsham. Available at: www.rspca.org.uk/vaccines Other batch tests may include tests for extraneous agents, toxoid contents and inactivation. Spagnuola-Weaver M, Ilott M and Price S. 2005. Animal usage in quality control tests for the release of immunological veterinary medicinal products in the United Kingdom. Proceedings of the 5th World Congress on Alternatives to Animal Experimentation, Berlin, August 2005, p223 – ALTEX Volume 22, Special Issue. Defra (2007). Animal Health and Welfare Research Requirements Document 2008/2009. Available at: www.defra.gov.uk/science/funding/historical.htm


RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

The percentage of scientific journals with ethical policies and guidelines relating to the use of animals in research and testing

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Effective ethical review of animal studies is an integral part of the scientific process. It encompasses the identification, evaluation and weighing of the harms and benefits – and thus the justification of the research – and provides an opportunity to ensure that the 3Rs (reduction, refinement and replacement) are fully implemented. Ethical review should be a continuous process throughout the life of every project, but there are a number of defined stages when a more formal consideration of the issues it encompasses should be addressed. These include when the research is considered for funding, during the authorisation process by the relevant legislative body (for example the Home Office in the UK), and when it is considered for publication in a scientific journal. Thus funding organisations, regulatory bodies and scientific journals all have an important role in ensuring that the objectives of ethical review are fully met, but each will have a different focus and extend its influence in a different way. Scientific journals, for example, have a significant opportunity to influence both the ethical acceptability of research and the way it is conducted. Since publication is important in any scientific field (contributing to the success of research teams and future research funding), journals can act as a driving force to improve standards worldwide, by refusing to publish papers describing research in which the benefits do not justify the harms or where the 3Rs were not implemented. Journals are also in an ideal position to publish, and therefore more widely disseminate, information relating to the 3Rs and animal welfare. However, there are long-standing concerns that journals do not do this, which have been highlighted by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 1, the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) and the RSPCA. The issue has also been raised at several workshops during meetings of the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences.

The RSPCA believes that every journal publishing research involving animals should have a publication policy that (i) recognises the importance of ethical review and animal welfare, and (ii) describes the factors relating to these that will be taken into account when considering manuscripts for publication. Each journal should also require authors to include information on issues relating to animal welfare, and how the 3Rs were applied, in the papers they submit for publication. This information is essential for a proper description of the scientific protocol, as well as for assessing and improving animal welfare. In 2007 (using data for 2005/6), the RSPCA began an annual survey of journal publication policies to assess whether, and how well, these issues were addressed. The results of the 2008 (using data for 2006/7) survey are described here.

INSUFFICIENT DATA ARE AVAILABLE.

The indicator figures Currently there are nearly 1 2,000 scientific journals in circulation. Between July 2006 and June 2007, 1 ,444 of these journals published four or more primary research articles, in English, that involved the use of animals 2. A statistically representative sample of 304 journals was randomly selected 3 from this pool, and the publication policies of these were collated directly from each journal’s website. Where a policy relating to animal use was not given on the journal’s website, the presence or absence of such a policy was confirmed by e-mail or a letter to the editor. The journal policies were then each scored out of a maximum of 1 2 using the criteria shown in Table 1. This year’s survey achieved a high response rate of 97.7 per cent (297 journals), in comparison with last year’s 80 per cent, and was met with much openness, interest and encouragement on the part of the journals and their publishers. It was not possible to confirm the presence of a publication policy relating to the use of animals in scientific research for seven (2.3 per cent) of the journals sampled, so these were excluded from the study. Five journals (1.6 per cent) were found to be unsuitable for inclusion because they published so few relevant papers directly involving the use of animals in research and therefore these too were excluded. Out of the remaining 292 journals surveyed, 48 per cent (1 40 journals) did not have a publication policy relating to ethics and animal welfare. This is of great concern to the RSPCA, given that these 1 40 journals collectively published a total of 5,185 articles involving animal use in the year surveyed. The remaining 50 per cent (152 journals) did have a relevant policy. However, the highest score achieved by any journal was nine out of 1 2 and the average score was just 2.23. The majority of sampled journals did no more than refer the authors to unspecified, general

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 85


guidelines on animal care, or stated that research should “comply with relevant national legislation”. Although this is important, it is insufficient on its own. Legislation and guidelines can be variable in scope, level of detail and standards required, and complying with the law is a necessity, not an option. It does little to ensure that a robust ethical review has taken place, or that the 3Rs have been implemented. The 152 journals referred to, collectively published a total of 1 3,384 articles involving the use of animals, covering a substantial number of animals, of a variety of species, with a range of severity limits. There was clearly a missed opportunity for the journals to influence the way such research is conducted. The RSPCA believes that editorial policies should contain more specific requirements (than just ‘complying with the law’), as illustrated in the table below, if they are to realise their

potential in contributing to more robust ethical review and better implementation of the 3Rs. The Society was pleased therefore that a number of journals went further with their publication policies by: I

making adherence to the publication policy a requirement for publication (27. 2 per cent)

I

requiring that the research submitted used appropriate anaesthesia and analgesia to minimise discomfort, distress and pain (1 9 per cent)

I

requiring that humane endpoints were defined and implemented (1 7 per cent)

I

having an overall considered, positive statement regarding animal welfare or the ethics of animal use (1 2.6 per cent).

Table 1: Scoring criteria Points awarded Having a policy relating to the use of animals in research

1

Stating that adherence to the policy was a requirement for publication

1

Referring authors to specific guidelines, codes of conduct or legislation relating to research involving animals

1

Having an overall considered, positive statement regarding animal welfare or the ethics of animal use

1

Requiring that research submitted for publication has: I undergone ethical review

1

I implemented the 3Rs

1

I followed contemporary good practice (and improved upon minimum standards set out in the relevant

legislation) for animal housing and care

1

I used appropriate anaesthesia and analgesia to minimise discomfort, distress and pain

1

I defined and implemented humane endpoints

1

I been carried out by investigators and personnel who are appropriately trained and qualified to handle

and use animals I carried out euthanasia according to best contemporary practice

1 1

I included all information that is suitable for publication, such as species, strain and numbers

of animals and other pertinent details including refinements in husbandry and procedure Total Data source: RSPCA.

86 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

1 12


RESEARCH ANIMAL INDICATORS

Figure 6: The percentage of journals with no publication policy relating to the use of animals in research, those awarded the range of possible scores (1–12), and those for which we were unable to confirm the absence or existence of any publication policy 50

The results for the two surveys undertaken to date are shown in Figure 6. The response rate was greater this year, but it is difficult to draw conclusions on the basis of just two years’ data. However there is little difference between the average scores awarded to journals in 2005/6 (2.04) and 2006/7 (2.23). The RSPCA calls upon every scientific journal publishing research involving the use of animals to:

2005/6 2006/7

I

have a publication policy that recognises the importance of ethical review and animal welfare, and, in its instructions to authors, describes the factors relating to these that will be taken into account when considering manuscripts for publication

I

fulfil their responsibility to ensure that ethical and welfare issues relating to the use of animals have been addressed in the research they publish

I

play a greater role in disseminating information on animal welfare and the 3Rs by requiring authors to include information on such issues in the manuscripts they submit for publication.

Percentage of journals

40

30

20

In the coming year the RSPCA hopes to work with selected journals to develop an ‘ideal’ policy, which the Society can then use to promote best practice more widely.

10

0

No 1 policy

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12 No response

Data source: RSPCA.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2

3

Nuffield Council on Bioethics. (2005). The Ethics of Research Involving Animals. Nuffield Council on Bioethics: London. This information was obtained using Michael Newman’s (Stanford University, USA) protocol to undertake a targeted interrogation of the Entrez Pubmed records database (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed), searching for English language journals which have published original research articles between July 2005 and June 2006 tagged as involving animal use. 18 per cent (53 journals) of those surveyed had also been randomly selected last year and there was no change in their policy.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 87


FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1

PIC CREDITS: ANGELA HAMPTON, DAMION DIPLOCK, ANDREW FORSYTH (X2), E A JANES/RSPCA PHOTOLIBRARY

88 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Bovine TB: The Scientific Evidence. Final Report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. 18 June 2007. www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/isg/pdf/final_report.pdf?bcsi_scan_F94125A2E068478B= 0&bcsi_scan_filename=final_report.pdf 2 Scientific staff from the RSPCA’s wildlife department used evidence from the ISG research in submissions to parliamentary committees and government. 3 The RSPCA made representations during the consultation and parliamentary scrutiny process. 4 6th International Conference on Fertility Control for Wildlife, 3–5 September 2007, Central Science Laboratory, York. 5 See: www.cites.org/eng/cop/index.shtml 6 The RSPCA is opposed to trade in wild-caught animals because it causes distress, suffering and death to large numbers of animals. Scientific staff represented the Society at CoP14 and worked alongside like-minded organisations to lobby decision-makers in order to protect animals from the negative impact of international trade. 7 The Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 was originally introduced as a Private Members’ Bill in response to public concern about the keeping of dangerous pets, especially big cats. It aims to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public and, to a lesser extent, safeguard the welfare of the animals. Licences, issued by the relevant local authority, are required for any animal that appears on the Schedule. 8 Defra Information Bulletin ‘Changes to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 – revision to Schedule of Controlled Species’. 1 October 2007. www.defra.gov.uk/news/2007/071001c.htm 9 See: www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ahws/pdf/awdelivery-strategy.pdf 10 Council Regulation (EC) No 318/2007.


INTRODUCTION WILDLIFE INDICATORS

2007 saw many occurrences with actual or potential repercussions for the UK’s wildlife, including disease outbreaks and oil spillage, high profile conferences, important reports from and to government, and changes to legislation. Although most of these events were likely to have negative consequences, there were a reasonable number of constructive influences as well. ■ After nearly a decade’s work, the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB was published1, providing a sound science base for the development of control policies. Overseeing the randomised badger cull trial was a major part of the group’s work but the parallel research programme on disease development in cattle was also very informative. Rightly, the group’s key conclusions regarding badger culling and cattle-based control measures were to prove influential2. ■ Following lengthy consultation, the Regulatory Reform (Deer) Order 2007 (England and Wales) came into effect. This is intended to help to improve management of the UK’s wild deer populations but also provide safeguards regarding the welfare of deer3. ■ An opportunity to review progress and take stock of the potential of fertility control tools in managing some wildlife populations was provided by an international conference held at York4. Whilst not providing a ‘silver bullet’ solution to problems, projects were being undertaken with a number of species around the world and some methods were moving from the development phase to field application with, for example, registration in the US being granted or applied for regarding some of the products developed. ■ The fourteenth Conference of the Parties (CoP14) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) took place in The Hague, the Netherlands5. The meeting considered 70 agenda items and 37 proposals to amend the CITES appendices. CoP14 adopted resolutions and decisions on a wide range of topics including the CITES Strategic Vision 2008–2013 and species trade and conservation issues including those on Asian big cats, sharks and sturgeons. Delegates agreed that no cetacean species should be subject to periodic review

while the International Whaling Commission moratorium is in place. CoP14 decided to list slender-horned and Cuvier’s gazelles and slow loris on Appendix I; Brazil wood, sawfish and eel on Appendix II; and to amend the annotation on African elephants to allow a one-off sale of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe with a nine-year resting period for further ivory trade6. ■ Government conducted a review of the Schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 19767. With effect from 1 October, many animals were removed from the Schedule, including raccoons, sloths, emus and squirrel monkeys8. At the time of writing the Act was the subject of a full government consultation. ■ In January the tanker MSC Napoli ran aground near Branscombe, South Devon. About 1,020 seabirds, mostly guillemots, were picked up by RSPCA animal collection officers, inspectors and members of the public, and treated at RSPCA centres, with 485 being successfully released back into the wild. ■ In March, the RSPCA responded to the Defra public consultation Delivering Good Animal Welfare – A draft strategy under the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, and in October Defra published its Animal Welfare Delivery Strategy9, calling on NGOs, industry and government to ensure that all those who care for or are responsible for animals understand, accept and meet their duty to ensure good standards of welfare for them. It also seeks to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to manage and minimise risks of harm (including the prevention of foreseeable problems), and to recognise and deal promptly with other problems as they arise. Those who interact with, or benefit from, animals are also expected to pay due regard to their welfare. ■ A ban on the import of wild birds into the European Union was enacted on 1 July 2007, as a measure to counter the threat of avian influenza10. There is little evidence to date of a significant increase in smuggling, contrary to some predictions.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 89


The number of stranded cetaceans by-caught around the UK

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

By-catch (when non-target animals are entangled, trapped or injured in fishing nets) poses a significant threat to the welfare and conservation of cetaceans in waters around the UK and globally. The RSPCA is extremely concerned about the levels of suffering by-caught cetaceans endure. Cetaceans caught in the nets can become injured as they struggle to get free and will eventually die if unable to return to the surface to breathe. As a result, some animals may later be found stranded, dead or alive. Entanglement injuries can be used as an indicator that animals were previously caught in nets. The number of porpoises and dolphins dying in UK fisheries over the last 10 years has remained high, yet no consistent effort of mitigation has been undertaken, even though enforcement of UK cetacean by-catch legislation1 would bring a reduction in the frequency of harbour porpoise by-catch. The RSPCA believes the government must take action to enforce such legislation, and must be proactive in supporting research into alternative fishing technology and by-catch mitigation methods, with the aim of eliminating all cetacean by-catch.

Small cetacean (dolphin and porpoise) entanglement caused by UK fisheries was first highlighted in 1992, when large numbers of dead dolphins washed up on the beaches of Cornwall and Devon. Within the first three months of 1992, 118 dead dolphins were stranded, and post-mortem investigations revealed for the first time that the deaths of many of these animals could be attributed to by-catch2. Post-mortem evidence pointed clearly at a prolonged and traumatic death for the entangled animals – blood-filled froth had started to form in the lungs, skin was lacerated from net meshes and teeth were broken, all indicative of a sustained struggle by these air-breathing mammals trapped underwater. Cetaceans are conscious breathers and death was found to be a result of asphyxia when their oxygen supplies ran out2. Observers were placed on fishing vessels in south-west England between summer 1992 and spring 19943 in an attempt to identify the source of dolphin mortality. The findings revealed that, rather than dolphins, there were many porpoises dying in nets set on the sea floor (bottom-set gillnets). Estimates put the mortality of porpoise by-catch at more than 2,000 animals each year in that fishery alone3 – a level considered to be a threat to the survival of the population as well as a huge welfare concern. Subsequent studies in other European fisheries revealed dolphin deaths in trawl nets occurred at a rate ranging from one to two dolphins every 100 hours of fishing 4. Clearly, numerous fisheries were to blame for the cetacean mortality. Efforts have been made to mitigate cetacean by-catch. Acoustic alarms (called ‘pingers’) have been developed to deter porpoises from gillnets and have proved effective in trials in North America and south-west England5 at reducing porpoise by-catch by up to 90 per cent. This is not seen as the definitive solution to the problem6 and further fishing gear development is required. Ongoing work in the UK 7 and in Europe is aiming to address the deaths of common dolphins in trawl nets. Mortality rates in the sea bass fishery in the English Channel and south-west approaches are extremely high and indicate that more than 900 common dolphins died in the UK bass fishery between 2000 and 20058 9. Many more French than UK boats use this fishery, so overall mortality will be significantly greater. Research projects are underway to design escape hatches from trawl nets, or to deter dolphins from entering trawl nets using acoustic harassment devices. Under the EU Common Fisheries Policy, a Regulation has been introduced to monitor and reduce cetacean by-catch in certain fisheries. The UK has adopted this Regulation into domestic law10, thus placing an obligation on certain fisheries either to carry observers or to fix acoustic deterrent pingers onto their nets. Though the observer work is underway, fishermen are failing to comply with pinger requirements, as they believe that

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

90 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

pingers are unreliable (and costly). Additionally, the large number of small boats using bottom-set gillnets, which are known to cause porpoise deaths, are exempt from the regulations (which only apply to vessels 12m or over).

Figure 1: The number of stranded cetaceans examined and number of deaths caused by by-catch, 1994–2007

The indicator figures

250

The actual death toll of cetaceans in fisheries is unknown, but estimates can be made from observer programmes that sample a small proportion of fishing fleets, and from the analysis of carcasses found on beaches. The total number of cetaceans stranding on UK shores doubled over the 13 years between 1994 to 2006, from 360 to 719 11 12. This is possibly due to the growth in a method of fishing known as pair trawling, used largely to catch sea bass. Between 2006 and 2007 however, the total number of cetacean strandings decreased by more than 25 per cent13. To reveal the cause of death, post-mortem examinations were conducted11 12 on stranded cetaceans that were not badly decomposed. Figure 1 shows the numbers of stranded cetaceans examined, and the numbers of those deaths known to have been a result of by-catch. Figure 2 illustrates these figures as percentages. It can be seen that the proportion of deaths attributed to by-catch has remained relatively consistent at around 20 per cent. However this figure would be higher if analysis was restricted to porpoises and dolphins. These figures do not provide information on the scale of the problem, as most discarded carcasses never reach the beach14. There is no doubt that enforcement of UK cetacean by-catch legislation could bring a reduction in the frequency of harbour porpoise entanglement in nets. The government must take action to enforce the legislation, and must be proactive in supporting research into alternative fishing technology and by-catch mitigation methods. While the fall in the number of cetacean strandings overall could be seen as encouraging, it is important to appreciate that this decrease may be due to normal inter-annual variation in UK waters13. The number of cetaceans by-caught, meanwhile, has remained consistently high over the last 10 years and shows no sign of significant decline10.

Stranded cetaceans examined at post-mortem By-catch

200

150

100

50

0

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

Figure 2: Proportion of total deaths (%) known to be caused by by-catch and other causes, 1994–2007 100 90 80 70

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Kuiken T, Simpson V R et al. 1994. Mass mortality of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in south-west England due to incidental capture in fishing gear. Veterinary Record, 134, 81–89. Tregenza N J C, Berrow S D, Hammond P S and Leaper R. 1997. Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) by-catch in set gillnets in the Celtic Sea. ICES Journal of Marine Science 54, 896–904. Morizur Y, Tregenza N, Heessen H, Berrow S and Pouvreau S. 1996. By-catch and discarding in pelagic trawl fisheries. Report to European Commission DGXIV on study BIOECO/93/017. p.182. Trippel E A, Strong M B, Terhune J M and Conway J D. 1999. Mitigation of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) by-catch in the gillnet fishery in the lower Bay of Fundy. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 56, 113–123. Cox T M, Read A J, Solow A and Tregenza N. 2001. Will harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) habituate to pingers? Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 3, 81–86. Sea Mammal Research Unit, St Andrews, UK. Northridge S N, Sanderson D, Mackay A and Hammond P S. 2003. Analysis and mitigation of cetacean by-catch in UK fisheries: final report to Defra Proj. MF0726, SMRU. p25. ICES. 2005. Interaction of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and fisheries in the northeast Atlantic. www.ices.dk/advice/cetaceans/dolphinbycatchadvice.pdf Technical annex. E.g. Sea Fisheries, England, Conservation S. I. 2005 No 17. The incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries (England) Order 2005. Out of the Blue – The UK Whale & Dolphin Stranding Scheme. The Natural History Museum. 2005. Deaville R and Jepson P D (compilers). 2007. UK Strandings Investigation Programme: Annual report to Defra for the period 1 January–31 December 2006 (contract number CR0346). Deaville R and Jepson P D (compilers). 2008. UK Strandings Investigation Programme: Annual report to Defra for the period 1 January–31 December 2007 (contract number CR0346). Of 22 porpoise bodies tagged then discarded from fishing vessels off Cornwall, none were found to strand. Cornwall Wildlife Trust: Dolphin group observations, 1992–1994.

60 50 40 30 20 10 0

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

By-catch

Not established

Other causes

Data source for Figures 1 and 2: Institute of Zoology.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 91


The number of imported wild-taken reptiles and birds as a proportion of the total trade into the UK and the EU

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

A diverse range of live birds and reptiles continues to be seen on sale to hobbyists and the pet-keeping public through many avenues of sale including pet shops, commercial breeders and the internet. Despite improvements in experienced keepers’ knowledge of the needs of many species now kept in captivity in the UK, and the ability of commercial breeders to supply some species completely from captive-bred animals, hundreds of thousands of wild reptiles continue to be removed from the wild each year to supply the demands of the pet trade in the European Union (EU), including the UK. However, since the introduction of EU legislation in October 2005, which stopped the importation of live birds taken from the wild into all EU member states, unsurprisingly UK and EU bird imports have decreased significantly. While the RSPCA will continue to monitor the trade in birds, the ban appears to have all but halted trade in these animals. The RSPCA is concerned that where animals continue to be taken from the wild, many animals suffer or die before being exported, during transportation and once held in captivity for the pet trade1 2. To prevent the suffering of wild animals that are still taken for this purpose, the Society advocates far stricter regulations to prevent the importation of vulnerable animals into the EU, which until recently was the largest market for the wild bird trade and remains so for reptiles. Stopping the trade for the most vulnerable animals will reduce the impact this trade has on wild populations and encourage traders to focus on species already obtainable from captive-bred sources.

Many pet keepers in the UK assume that any animal on sale is captive-bred and that all wild animals are protected by international regulations to limit their capture and use for the pet trade. Both of these assumptions are untrue. International trade in wild animals is only regulated for species that are endangered or threatened by trade, and which are therefore listed on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendices. This Convention is implemented through EU CITES trade regulations3 and enforced through the UK Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES) legislation4. As these controls do not monitor the trade in non-CITES listed species, and the majority of wild animals are not protected by CITES, it is therefore difficult to determine how many species and individual animals in total are imported into the EU or UK from the wild. For example, of the approximate 10,000 species of birds5 and 7,700 species of reptiles6 recorded in the wild, less than 15 per cent of bird species and eight per cent of reptile species are protected through CITES to control their commercial international trade. Figures on CITES-listed animals entering the EU are therefore only part of the total live animal trade. Figures on animals imported into the UK also provide just a partial picture, as they only record animals entering the UK as the first destination after export and not those imported from other EU countries. Figures on the movements of both CITES-listed and non-CITESlisted animals between EU member states and into the EU are collated into the central EU database called TRACES (the Trade Control and Expert System) and the European Community Eurostat database. However, neither database qualifies important information on the source of the animals being traded – no distinction is made between an animal caught in the wild and an animal bred in captivity. So at present, CITES data is also needed to monitor the source of animals, to investigate any shifts in the number of animals taken from the wild compared to animals bred in captivity. An added complication now exists because, since 2007, bird movements into

NUMBER OF WILD-CAUGHT REPTILES AS A PROPORTION OF THE TOTAL TRADE IN LIVE CITES-LISTED REPTILES IMPORTED INTO THE UK – LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

NUMBER OF WILD-CAUGHT REPTILES AS A PROPORTION OF THE TOTAL TRADE IN LIVE CITES-LISTED REPTILES IMPORTED INTO THE EU – LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

TOTAL NUMBER OF LIVE, WILD-CAUGHT CITESLISTED REPTILES IMPORTED INTO THE UK – THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPTILES IMPORTED INTO THE UK.

TOTAL NUMBER OF LIVE, WILD-CAUGHT CITESLISTED REPTILES IMPORTED INTO THE EU – THERE HAS BEEN A SLIGHT INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPTILES IMPORTED INTO THE EU.

92 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

the UK from the EU no longer seem to be recorded7, making it almost impossible to monitor trends in total bird trade. Figures for CITES-listed reptiles and birds imported into the UK and EU between 2000 and 2007 have been sub-divided according to the source assigned to each animal: wild-caught, captive-bred or ranched/captive-reared. Ranching involves the rearing in a controlled environment of specimens, such as eggs or hatchlings, which have been taken into captivity from the wild. The same sub-division could not be achieved for data extracted from the TRACES and Eurostat databases, as the source of animal is not recorded. Instead, these data represent combined totals for CITES-listed and non-CITES-listed species for each year. For more information about the CITES source codes used in this report and detailed results, please refer to the Animal Welfare Footprint website: www.animalwelfarefootprint.com

The indicator figures – live reptiles The number of live reptiles imported into the UK from outside the EU under CITES, as well as the proportion of these that were wildcaught, for 2000–20078 9, are shown in Figure 3. Since 2000, it is clear that trade of live reptiles into the UK has increased, particularly in

2006 and 2007 when 24,872 and 29,871, respectively, live CITES-listed reptiles were imported from outside the EU. These numbers represent an increase on 2005 figures of 84 and 121 per cent respectively. More importantly, the number of wild-caught individuals increased almost five-fold between 2000 and 2007 to 29,871 animals and represented as much as 84 per cent of all live reptiles imported in 2003. This high level is consistent with the origin of imported reptiles, as the most common countries exporting them into Heathrow are Guyana, Chile and Ghana where the species live in the wild10. With regard to CITES trade into the EU, data for 2000–20068 9 are shown in Figure 4. Figures suggest a slight increase in total numbers imported in 2006 compared to previous years. Meanwhile, the total proportion taken from the wild fell slightly from 41 per cent in 2005 to almost 38 per cent in 2006, indicating a greater dependence on ranched and captive-reared reptiles. At the time of writing, 2007 data for reptile trade into the EU were not available. In terms of trade in all live reptiles (including non-CITES listed species for which trade is therefore unregulated), 178,24411 entered the UK from outside the EU in 2006, but only 1,47011 from other EU member states. Thus, more than 99 per cent of all live reptiles that

Figure 3: Total number of CITES-listed reptiles imported into the UK from outside the EU, and proportion (%) of these reptiles that were obtained from the wild, 2000–2007 30,000

90 80

25,000 70 20,000

60 50

15,000 40 10,000

30 20

5,000 10 0

2000

2001

2002

2003

Total number of CITES-listed reptiles imported into UK

2004

2005

2006

2007

0

Proportion of CITES-listed reptiles that were wild-caught (%)

Data source: UK government and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 93


Figure 4: Total number of CITES-listed reptiles imported into the EU, and proportion (%) of these reptiles that were obtained from the wild, 2000–2006 350,000

50

300,000 40 250,000 30

200,000 150,000

20

100,000 10 50,000 0

2000

2001

2002

Total number of CITES-listed reptiles imported into EU

2003

2004

2005

2006

0

Proportion of these CITES-listed reptiles that were wild-caught (%)

Data source: UK government and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

were imported into the UK originated from outside the EU. In previous years, this has been from South American or African countries where CITES-listed reptile species are found in the wild10. Unfortunately, comparable data on the total number of individual reptiles imported into the EU in 200612, and into the UK in 2007 7, were not provided by the government to reveal the latest trends. However, based on 2005 data indicating that 1,613,842 reptiles were imported into the EU11, it is estimated that between 3.6 and 5.9 million live reptiles were imported into the EU in 200613. Probably the greatest impact on wild animal trade since October 2005 is the introduction of EU-wide legislation that stopped the importation of wild birds into all EU member states on health grounds in an effort to reduce the risk of the transmission and spread of avian influenza14. There is always a risk that the suspension of one trade may contribute to a shift in the effort of trappers and exporters, as demands change, towards different animals in order to maintain business. The overall growth in reptile trade into the UK over the last two years (Figure 3) could therefore have occurred following a shift from exporting wild birds towards wild reptiles. To support such a shift however, a wild-bird keeper in the EU would have to be willing to shift their interest to wild-caught reptiles, in preference to acquiring captive-bred birds that are already kept and sold in the EU to supply

94 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

the trade. It is possible that heightened public concern about potential disease – namely avian influenza – may have led to pet keepers preferring reptiles over birds. Commercial pet retailers may also be intentionally shifting their efforts towards buying and selling reptiles to the public, in response to the stop on imports of wildcaught birds; now even some hobbyists and traders promote reptiles as a less challenging pet for modern society. Following the implementation of the US import ban of wild CITESlisted birds in 199215, there was a temporary peak in the number of live reptiles imported the following year (totaling 3.29 million reptiles; 15 per cent more than the previous year). However, numbers then decreased each subsequent year until reaching a low in 1996 of 0.72 million animals16. It is currently unclear whether the growth seen in reptile trade into the UK and EU will follow a similar trend in the long term. Hundreds of thousands of reptiles are imported into the EU from the wild without any monitoring or controls on the numbers exported to supply the pet market, which clearly raises concerns about how few reptile species are protected from international trade. Although the RSPCA fully supports the end of the wild-bird trade into the EU on welfare grounds, the Society would not welcome any subsequent shift within the pet trade to another group of sentient animals, such as to reptiles, or an increase in the pet trade targeting non-CITES-


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

listed animals. Whatever the reason(s) for the increase in reptile imports into the UK, and possibly the EU as a whole, trade into the EU of over one million live reptiles demonstrates an even greater need for the regulation of the reptile trade into, and within, the EU to restrict the importation of species most vulnerable to suffering and mortality once captured and removed from the wild. Reptile traders and keepers also have a responsibility to carefully consider the source of the animal they are acquiring; to choose species that can be supplied from captive-bred animals; and to provide the facilities and care necessary for the animals’ welfare when kept in captivity.

The indicator figures – wild birds Figures on CITES-listed birds imported into the UK from outside the EU and into the EU as a whole, in addition to the proportion of these birds that were wild-caught, for 2000–2007 are given in Figures 5 and 6. These figures show that thousands of wild-caught CITES-listed birds were imported annually into the UK between 2002 and 20059, but following the EU-wide ban on imports of wild birds14, the trade in CITESlisted species has all but ceased (Figure 5). Looking at CITES-listed bird imports into the EU as a whole9, there was a similar crash (Figure 6). Looking at the trade of all bird species into the UK, not just those

listed under CITES, shows that only 54 birds were imported in 2006 for conservation purposes, compared to more than 50,000 in previous years11. Unfortunately, comparable figures for 2007 were not provided by the government7 12, although it is highly likely that this trend has continued given the current import ban. Furthermore, historical figures for the number of all birds imported into the EU appear to be unreliable, as numbers provided are lower than CITESlisted species alone (e.g. 521,90617 in 2005 compared to. 524,850 CITES-listed birds)13. From UK and EU bird import figures, it is clear that the import ban on wild birds has all but ended trade in wild-caught CITES-listed birds. The RSPCA supports the European Commission’s decision to amend EU legislation and introduce a permanent ban on the importation of wild-caught birds into the EU. However, the Society also welcomes the continued monitoring of trade in all species of birds and reptiles, particularly as there are some early indications that trade may be shifting from birds to reptiles, including those not listed under CITES. It is important to remember that no matter whether a bird is currently of conservation concern and protected by CITES, a close watch on the total trade is needed to monitor whether trade in particular species should be controlled or stopped on welfare grounds.

Figure 5: Total number of CITES-listed birds imported into the UK from outside the EU, and proportion (%) of these birds that were obtained from the wild, 2000–2007 100

80,000

90

70,000

80 60,000 70 50,000

60 50

40,000

40

30,000

30 20,000 20 10,000 0

10 2000

2001

2002

2003

Total number of CITES-listed birds imported into UK

2004

2005

2006

2007

0

Proportion of CITES-listed birds that were wild-caught (%)

Data source: UK government and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 95


Figure 6: Total number of CITES-listed birds imported into the EU, and proportion (%) of these birds that were obtained from the wild, 2000–2006 900,000

100

800,000

90 80

700,000

70

600,000

60

500,000

50 400,000

40

300,000

30

200,000

20

100,000 0

10 2000

2001

2002

2003

Total number of CITES-listed birds imported into EU

2004

2005

2006

0

Proportion of these CITES-listed birds that were wild-caught (%)

Data source: UK government and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

TOTAL NUMBER OF LIVE, WILD-CAUGHT CITES-LISTED BIRDS IMPORTED INTO THE UK – THE TRADE HAS VIRTUALLY CEASED.

10

TOTAL NUMBER OF LIVE, WILD-CAUGHT CITES-LISTED BIRDS IMPORTED INTO THE EU – A VERY LARGE DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF BIRDS IMPORTED INTO THE EU; THE TRADE HAS VIRTUALLY CEASED.

14

11 12 13

15 16 17

96 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Altherr S and Freyer D. 2001. Mortality and morbidity in private husbandry of reptiles. RSPCA. Maas B. 2000. Prepared and shipped – A multidisciplinary review of the effects of capture, handling, housing and transport on morbidity and mortality. RSPCA. Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 (and subsequent amendments). The Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. Birdlife International website: www.birdlife.org CITES website: www.CITES.org Joan Ruddock, MP, Hansard, 17 December 2007. Hansard. 9 May 2006. CITES trade statistics derived from the CITES Trade Database, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK. CAWC. 2003. The report on the welfare of non-domesticated animals kept for companionship. Lord Rooker, House of Lords written answers, 26 January 2007. Jonathan Shaw, Defra minister, Hansard, 30 April 2008. The Welfare State: Measuring animal welfare in the UK 2006. RSPCA animal welfare indicator report, 2006. European Commission Decisions 2005/759/EC and 2005/760/EC, as amended by Decision 2005/862/EC, Decision 2006/79/EC, Council Regulation (EC) No 318/2007. Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992. Franke J and Telecky T. 2001. Reptiles as pets – An examination of the trade in olive reptiles in the United States. HSUS. Lord Rooker, Minister of State (Lords), Hansard, 18 December 2006.


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

The provision of quality written information for the sale of non-domestic pets (reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals) in a sample of outlets

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Before acquiring any animal, whether it be a cat, dog or a less common pet such as a reptile, it is essential for the animal’s welfare that the person responsible for its care fully understands its long-term needs and is fully prepared to meet those needs throughout the animal’s lifetime. If people are not fully prepared, animal welfare may be compromised as a result and potentially the animals involved may be given up or abandoned. The RSPCA believes that to help inform the person thinking about keeping an animal as a pet, anyone selling or rehoming the animal has a responsibility to help provide good-quality husbandry advice appropriate for the species.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales clearly recognises the responsibility of any pet keeper to take reasonable steps to meet their animal’s welfare needs in captivity. The Animal Welfare Bill’s Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) also recognised the responsibility of pet vendors to help educate prospective buyers in the husbandry and care of animals on sale. It was therefore advocated in the RIA that all commercial vendors of pet animals should issue information leaflets; a requirement that may be incorporated into new pet vending regulations 1. Nowadays the diverse range of animals available to keep as pets can be acquired from many different sources, including breeders, specialist pet shops that sell non-domestic animals, generalist pet shops, pet fairs, animal auctions, animal centres, small-ad papers, hobbyist groups, distance sellers (such as the internet), and from friends and family. The animals may have been bred in the UK, bred overseas or caught in the wild before being exported for sale. To investigate the ownership of non-domestic pets, including where pet animals were acquired, the RSPCA commissioned research that was completed by Dr Deborah Wells from Queen’s University, Belfast in 20022. The 1,024 surveys completed by keepers from around the UK (who kept reptiles, amphibians or insects) revealed that pets were acquired from four main sources: 51.2 per cent from a non-domestic (specialist) pet shop; 16.6 per cent from a general pet shop; 22.5 per cent from a private breeder; and 9.8 per cent from a friend or relative. The same respondents were also asked what husbandry advice they were given. Almost half were given only verbal advice by the seller, 31.2 per cent were given written information and 20.5 per cent were given no husbandry advice at all. The pet keepers then went on to state, when asked, that the most common problem they experienced with their pet was the lack of information provided by the supplier. As two-thirds of suppliers in the study were identified as being either specialist or generalist pet shops, that sector of the pet trade clearly provides an important source for passing on advice to those considering or already keeping a companion animal. In recognition of the role pet shops play in helping inform the pet-buying public about the needs of animals in captivity and what equipment and long-term care is required once the animal is taken home, the RSPCA has selected the provision of good-quality written information, appropriate for the animals on sale, as a welfare indicator.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 97


THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 2006 IN ENGLAND AND WALES CLEARLY RECOGNISES THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ANY PET KEEPER TO TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO MEET THEIR ANIMAL’S WELFARE NEEDS IN CAPTIVITY.

A sample of pet shops in England and Wales is surveyed annually. Data was collected between January and May 2008. Information is gathered on the type of non-domestic animals on sale from four broad animal groups: mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The availability of good quality, appropriate information on the welfare needs of animals on display is also monitored, both on display near enclosures (‘signs’) and in a form that can be taken away for reference (‘care sheets’) by those considering buying or intending to buy an animal. I

Information scoring

The type of information recorded and scored is based on the five welfare needs of animals as outlined in the Animal Welfare Act 2006: an animal’s need for a suitable environment (e.g. enclosure size); a suitable diet (e.g. food type and provision of water); opportunities to exhibit normal behaviour patterns (e.g. branches for climbing or perching); any need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals (grouping and issues of breeding); and its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease (e.g. health issues, the need for the owner to seek veterinary advice). Other issues considered desirable for pet shops to cover include: animal’s size at adulthood, lifespan, source (e.g. captive-bred or wildcaught), price and sources of further information (e.g. pet shop staff, websites, free care sheets). Surveyors were also asked to note if staff approached them and volunteered any care information.

98 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Figure 7: Availability of different animal groups in surveyed pet shops 80 70 60 50 % Pet shops

The indicator figures

40 30 20 10 0 Invertebrates Fish

Data source: RSPCA.

Mammals

Birds Amphibians Reptiles


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

Table 1: Estimated number of non-domesticated animals on sale in surveyed pet shops Estimated number of animals on sale Average per shop (range)

Total

Extrapolation to pet shops across all of England and Wales

Mammals

26 (2–97)

3,918

9,857

Birds

25 (1–147)

3,136

6,882

Reptiles

50 (2–410)

6,306

11,883

8 (1–70)

846

1,394

640 (7–3,000)

90,826

220,962

23 (1–300)

2,776

5,061

107,808

256,040

Amphibians Fish Invertebrates Total Data source: RSPCA.

I

Animals on sale

Out of 310 shops spread across England and Wales that were investigated in 2008, 222 sold animals belonging to at least one of the four target groups, the remainder either did not sell any target animals or no longer appeared to be in business. Mammals were sold in the largest proportion of shops, followed by fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, then amphibians (see Figure 7). An estimated 14,206 animals belonging to the four target groups (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) were on sale. On top of this, 90,826 fish3 and 2,776 invertebrates were recorded (see Table 1). Although not every pet shop across England and Wales was visited in this study, data gathered from the surveyed sample can be used to get some idea of the total number of animals on sale. Assuming a similar proportion of non-surveyed pet shops held target animals (72 per cent), and in similar proportions (see Figure 7 and ‘Average per shop’ column in Table 1), it is estimated that more than

30,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians were on sale across England and Wales, and a further 221,000 fish and 5,000 invertebrates (see Table 1). The most common species on sale, across the four groups, are shown in Table 2. Hamsters, mice and rats were the most commonly sold mammals, followed by gerbils and chinchillas. Rarer species included chipmunks and sugargliders. Budgies were the most popular bird, followed by canaries and finches. Cockatiels, macaws, large parrots and parakeets were found in 13 to 19 per cent of surveyed shops. Most shops that sold reptiles stocked various species of lizards and snakes, although tortoises were also popular. Fewer shops sold terrapins, and crocodilians (e.g. caimans) were found in only three shops. Amphibians were the least common group on sale, mainly consisting of various species of frogs and toads.

THE TYPE OF INFORMATION RECORDED AND SCORED IS BASED ON THE FIVE WELFARE NEEDS OF ANIMALS AS OUTLINED IN THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 2006.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 99


Table 2: Number of surveyed pet shops that sold each animal type Animals on sale

No. of shops

%

Animals on sale

No. of shops

%

Mammals

162

73

Birds

104

46.8

Hamster

132

59.5

Budgie

88

Mouse/rat

132

59.5

Canary

Gerbil/jird

106

47.7

Chinchilla

64

Degu

Animals on sale

No. of shops

%

Reptiles

80

35.8

39.6

Lizard

77

34.5

64

28.8

Snake

68

30.4

Finch

56

25.2

Tortoise/turtle

63

28.4

28.8

Cockatiel

42

18.9

Terrapin

27

12.2

24

10.8

Macaw/large parrot

33

14.9

Crocodilian

3

1.4

Chipmunk

5

2.3

Parakeet

28

12.6

Amphibians

50

22.3

Sugar glider

2

0.9

Lovebird

18

8.1

Frog

33

14.9

Primate

0

0.0

Conure

8

3.6

Toad

23

10.1

Other

58

26.1

Other

26

11.7

Salamander

15

6.8

Fish

144

64.9

Invertebrates

71

31.8

Newt

12

5.4

Data source: RSPCA.

IT IS ESTIMATED THAT MORE THAN 30,000 MAMMALS, BIRDS, REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS WERE ON SALE ACROSS ENGLAND AND WALES, AND A FURTHER 221,000 FISH AND 5,000 INVERTEBRATES.

100 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

Figure 8: Availability of written information on signage displayed in pet shops for at least one of the four groups surveyed 90

2008

80

2007

70

% Pet shops

60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Price

Info other than price

One or more 'welfare needs'

All five 'welfare needs'

Adult size

Lifespan

Source of animal

Sources of further information

Data source: RSPCA.

I

Care information provided to potential buyers – on signs

Most pet shops (82 per cent) displayed some sort of written information about at least one of the four species surveyed. The cost of the animal was most commonly on display, and only about half (55 per cent) of shops displayed information in addition to price, which is about the same proportion as last year’s survey (see Figure 8). Availability of information specific to animals’ welfare needs (environment, diet, behaviour, social grouping and health) showed little change compared to last year (see Figure 8). Almost half (45.9 per cent) of pet shops displayed this information on signs for at least one of the surveyed species, but less than one in 10 (nine per cent) provided information on all five aspects of welfare (see Figure 8). Compared to last year, a similar proportion of shops provided some welfare-related information for at least one surveyed species (see Figure 8). Information relating to the provision of a suitable environment, substrates to allow the performance of natural behaviours and diet were displayed on signage by between 30 and 32 per cent of shops. This is slightly less than the 37 to 42 per cent recorded last year. Health-related information, such as signs of ill health to look for and the need to take the animal to a vet if it became ill, was the least often provided (16.2 per cent of shops, compared to 20.9 per cent recorded last year). No change was seen in the proportion of shops that displayed information about the lifespan

of the species, and therefore the degree of commitment required of buyers, which was reported on signage in about a quarter of shops (see Figure 8). As reported last year, potential buyers of mammals receive the most information via signage. More than one-third (35.1 per cent) of signs for mammals contained information about the animals’ welfare needs in captivity, compared to 26.9 per cent for reptiles, 15.6 per cent for amphibians and 8.3 per cent for birds. An important aspect that people should consider before buying a pet is how large the animal can grow, particularly when buying a reptile. Similar to last year’s results, reptiles most often had this sort of information on display, albeit for only 17.3 per cent of reptiles surveyed. Some shops sold boa constrictors, which can grow to more than three metres in length, yet this information was not displayed to the public. Information regarding the source of the animal (e.g. bred in captivity or taken from the wild) was rarely displayed for any animal but reptiles most commonly had this information on display (13.5 per cent of shops). In addition, a few shops displayed a simple rating scale on signage to convey how difficult the species is to keep (e.g. level 2 – for experienced keepers), and some shops displayed signs about pet owners’ duty of care to meet their animal’s needs.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 101


Figure 9: Availability of written information to be taken away from pet shops for at least one of the four groups surveyed 40

2008

35

2007

30

% Pet shops

25 20 15 10 5 0

One or more 'welfare needs'

All five 'welfare needs'

Adult size

Lifespan

Source of animal

Sources of further information

Data source: RSPCA.

I

Care information provided to potential buyers – free written information

Results relating to the availability of free care sheets are presented in Figure 9. Care sheets were available in one-third of shops surveyed (34.2 per cent), which is higher than last year (20.9 per cent). An additional nine per cent apparently did hold care sheets but they were unavailable at the time of the survey (e.g. due to the printer not working) and another 8.1 per cent held care sheets on species not selected for the survey. Therefore, about half of shops usually held care sheets of some description. However, as with last year, most care sheets were collected in a single chain of pet stores – Pets at Home – and discounting these brought the proportion or shops with free care sheets down to just seven per cent (compared to five per cent last year). Of this seven per cent, most appeared to produce their own information, although some provided sheets produced by the Pet Care Trust or pet food manufacturers. When care sheets were provided, at least one of the five welfare needs of the animal in question was always covered, and 81.6 per cent contained information on all five aspects, which is similar to last year. A high proportion of sheets also provided valuable information about the expected lifespan of the animal (84.2 per cent of sheets). There is thus far more information provided in care sheets, when they are available, than on signage.

102 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

Again, those considering buying a mammal were provided with most information, with care sheets available in 27 per cent of shops that sold this group. Care sheets were far scarcer for birds (12.5 per cent of shops) and reptiles (11.5 per cent), which is very similar to the situation seen last year. However, potential amphibian buyers had access to more care sheets this year (18.8 per cent of shops that sold amphibians compared to 6.1 per cent last year). As with signage, information about the size to which the animal could grow was most often provided for reptiles (83.3 per cent of shops that provided reptile care sheets). Information on the source of the animal was only every provided for birds due to leaflets provided by Pets at Home which stated that all birds were captive-bred. Overall, free information in some form (either on signs in store or in care sheets) was available in 82 per cent of shops surveyed, compared to 83.3 per cent last year. Excluding information about the price of animals on sale brings this down to just half of shops surveyed, which is about the same as last year (see Figure 10). Welfare-related information, covering at least one of the five ‘welfare needs’ as described in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, was provided for around half of animals surveyed, but only about one-third covered all five ‘needs’. The majority of shops did not provide specifics on the size to which the animal could grow or the number of years it could live (see Figure 10).


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

Figure 10: Availability of any sort of free written information in surveyed pet shops for at least one of the four groups surveyed 90

2008

80

2007

70

% Pet shops

60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Price

Info other than price

One or more 'welfare needs'

All five 'welfare needs'

Adult size

Lifespan

Source of animal

Sources of further information

Data source: RSPCA.

I

Information provided by staff

An additional avenue of information delivery is via staff in store. Surveyors reported that they were approached by a member of staff in over half of the shops surveyed (59.5 per cent of shops), which is far higher than last year (39.4 per cent), but they were no more likely to receive unsolicited advice about the care and welfare needs of the animals on display (14.4 per cent of shops compared to 15 per cent last year). Surveyors noted that in several stores staff were very helpful and knowledgeable, and in some cases staff made it clear that they would not sell an animal without being certain the buyer had a full understanding of the needs of the animal and the level of commitment required. Furthermore, a couple of shops formally advised buyers of their duty of care by asking them to complete and sign forms to this effect which were then retained by the shop. Overall, the availability of free written information has changed little compared to last year. Still only about half of surveyed shops provide any information other than the price of the animal on sale and only one-third provide free care sheets, which drops to just seven per cent when sheets provided by a major pet chain are discounted. This is disappointing, given that pet shops are best placed to inform potential buyers of their duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and to furnish them with some basic information to aid their decision as to whether or not they are able to meet this obligation.

More encouragingly, when written care information was provided, the scope of the information was wider compared to the sheets sampled last year. There are also hints of some shops taking their responsibility very seriously by starting initiatives such as asking buyers to sign a ‘declaration’ that they agree to meet the needs of the animal they buy. Nevertheless, great improvements could still be made in both signage and the availability of free care sheets. Staff obviously represent an important avenue for delivering such information and making sure that people know what they are taking on before they buy a new pet. However, good quality, written information remains a vital means of informing potential pet owners, allowing them to mull over the options and make the correct choice, both for them and the animal.

Further details on the survey methods and more detailed results are available on the Animal Welfare Footprint website4.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3

4

www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/act/petsales_fairs.htm Wells D. 2002. The ownership and welfare of exotic pets. RSPCA. Although all numbers are estimates, figures for fish should be treated with some caution given the sheer numbers involved and the difficulty in counting individuals, especially of smaller species. www.animalwelfarefootprint.com

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 103


The proportion of fishing tackle-related swan incidents recorded by the RSPCA

WELFARE INDICATOR:

RSPCA concern

Background

Litter is responsible for the injury and death of thousands of animals each year. Lost and discarded fishing tackle is part of this problem, and poses a significant threat to a range of wildlife, but particularly swans. Discarded fishing line, hooks and weights used by anglers are responsible for thousands of calls made to the RSPCA about swans each year. Fishing tackle can also present a hazard to swans while it is being used. While it is inevitable that casualties will occur as long as humans live alongside wildlife, the RSPCA believes that education and public awareness is the key to ensuring that as few swans (and other wild animals) as possible suffer unnecessarily due to the carelessness of humans.

Lost and discarded fishing tackle presents a real hazard to wildlife: hooks are swallowed and pierce through skin; weights and floats are ingested; and line is swallowed and becomes wrapped around bodies and limbs. As a result, fishing litter can cause painful injuries, internal blockages, poisoning and sometimes death. Swans are particularly badly affected. Fishing tackle has been identified as the single most important cause of mute swan rescues1 and admissions to an RSPCA wildlife centre2. It has been estimated that 8,000 swan rescues take place each year in Britain, with 3,000 caused by fishing tackle1. This could of course underestimate the true scale of the problem, as many swans may go unnoticed and unreported. Lead poisoning resulting from the ingestion of fishing weights has also caused significant mortality in swans, although in recent years, as lead weights have been replaced, this appears to be a less significant, albeit lingering problem2. In addition to discarded and lost tackle, observations suggest that a significant proportion of incidents are caused by swans eating baited hooks or swimming through lines while they are in use; unattended rods thus pose a particular threat1. Education and awareness-raising initiatives obviously play a key role in fostering greater care and vigilance and teaching good angling practice. Codes of practice and coaching courses initiated by some angling organisations go some way towards achieving this, but given that most problems appear to involve anglers that are inexperienced or of average skill 1, further outreach may be required in order to engage more casual anglers who are not members of any organisation.

THERE IS LITTLE CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

104 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007


WILDLIFE INDICATORS

Figure 11: Proportion of swan incidents reported to the RSPCA that involved fishing tackle, 2000–2007 30

Proportion of phonecalls (%)

25

20

15

10

5

0

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

The indicator figures The proportion of swan incidents recorded by the RSPCA that involve fishing tackle has been monitored. Data indicate that the vast majority of incidents involve mute swans, but data on all species of swan are included. An increase in incidents could indicate more carelessness and less public concern, but, equally, it could indicate a higher rate of reporting by a more vigilant and compassionate public. Figures could also be affected by other factors, such as swan numbers and the activity of rescue groups. Regardless of the underlying causes, the RSPCA takes the view that any humaninduced harm to wildlife is a potential cause for concern and is therefore worthy of monitoring. Two sources of RSPCA data were used covering the period 2000 to 2007. Firstly, telephone calls made to the RSPCA’s cruelty and advice line by members of the public are considered (these will include unconfirmed accounts but this should not affect any trends

over time) and secondly admission records of swans from three of the RSPCA’s four wildlife centres3. Between 2000 and 2007, there was a 40 per cent drop in the number of calls about swans and fishing tackle, from 3,590 to 2,169, most notably between 2003 and 2004. However all calls made to the RSPCA show a similar decline. These patterns may be due to changes in the way calls were handled over this period, including the establishment of the RSPCA’s National Control Centre. This is one of several factors that could influence the absolute number of calls, and so from a trend point of view the proportion of calls about swans that involved fishing tackle should yield a more revealing picture. Figure 11 shows that there has been a slight drop in the proportion of tacklerelated calls, from 26–27 per cent (of 2,700–3,600 calls about swans) between 2000 and 2005, to 22–23 per cent (of 2,200–2,400 calls about swans) over the last two years. This could simply represent a short-term dip or perhaps the start of a significant decline in incidents.

REGARDLESS OF THE UNDERLYING CAUSES, THE RSPCA TAKES THE VIEW THAT ANY HUMAN-INDUCED HARM TO WILDLIFE IS A POTENTIAL CAUSE FOR CONCERN AND IS THEREFORE WORTHY OF MONITORING.

MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007 I 105


Figure 12: Proportion of swans admitted to three RSPCA centres affected by fishing tackle, 2000–2007 30

Proportion of swan admissions (%)

25

20

15

10

5

0

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Data source: RSPCA.

Looking at admissions to RSPCA wildlife centres, recent years have seen fewer swans admitted, both in total (from 941 in 2000 to 799 in 2007) and suffering from tackle-related injuries (from 121 in 2000 to 73 in 2007). More importantly, Figure 12 shows that proportionately there have been slightly fewer fishing tackle-related admissions in 2006 and 2007 (nine per cent of swan admissions) compared to previous years (11–14 per cent). However, further data is needed to determine whether incidents are really in decline. The results to date are therefore inconclusive with regards to whether there has been a significant decline in fishing tackle-related injuries in swans. Only time and more data will tell if the pattern seen in the last couple of years is sustained and that perhaps attitudes and behaviour are improving.

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES 1 2 3

Perrins C, Martin P and Broughton B. 2002. The impact of lost and discarded fishing line and tackle on mute swans. R&D Technical Report W-051/TR. Environment Agency, Bristol. Kelly A and Kelly S. 2004. Fishing tackle injury and blood lead levels in mute swans. Waterbirds 27(1): 60–68. Data from the RSPCA’s fourth wildlife centre was not included due to incompatible recording methods.

106 I MEASURING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE UK 2007

THE RESULTS TO DATE ARE INCONCLUSIVE WITH REGARDS TO WHETHER THERE HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT DECLINE IN FISHING TACKLE-RELATED INJURIES IN SWANS. ONLY TIME AND MORE DATA WILL TELL IF THE PATTERN SEEN IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS IS SUSTAINED AND THAT PERHAPS ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR ARE IMPROVING.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, OR TO REQUEST FURTHER COPIES, PLEASE E-MAIL:

campaigns@rspca.org.uk PHONE:

0300 123 0212 WRITE TO:

External affairs, RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS VISIT:

www.animalwelfarefootprint.com


www.animalwelfarefootprint.com Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS Telephone: 0300 1234 555 www.rspca.org.uk A charity registered in England and Wales no: 219099 ISSN: 1758-9770 040608 10.08 FRONT AND BACK COVER PAPER: 55 PER CENT RECYCLED EFC (ELEMENTAL CHLORINE FREE) FIBRE. 104-PAGE REPORT PAPER: 100 PER CENT RECYCLED TFC (TOTALLY CHLORINE FREE) FIBRE. PIC CREDITS: ANDREW FORSYTH (X3), RSPCA (X2), TIM SAMBROOK, E A JANES, DAMION DIPLOCK/RSPCA PHOTOLIBRARY. HELEN BALL, JANE COOPER.


RSPCA: animal welfare in the UK