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British Government Challenged on Animal Welfare Ahead of Election

05 February 2015

UK - UK's Political parties have been urged to take action on animal welfare and disease prevention as the British Veterinary Association (BVA) President John Blackwell set out the organisation’s 2015 General Election manifesto.

Launching the manifesto, Mr Blackwell highlighted the vital role veterinary surgeons play in safeguarding animal and human health and welfare, challenging the next government to:

  • Listen to the growing public concern over welfare at slaughter, indicated by over 100,000 signatures to BVA’s online petition, and pledge that an end to non-stun slaughter will be fully debated by parliament at the earliest opportunity
  • Ensure the veterinary surveillance system of animal disease detection and prevention in the UK is robust enough “to spot the next emerging threat, the next BSE”
  • Lobby in Europe to protect vets’ ability to responsibly prescribe and dispense veterinary medicines
  • Overhaul legislation on the sale of pets to ensure best practice in the production and sale of companion animals
  • Embrace partnership working between government and the veterinary profession, recognising the unique skills, knowledge and expertise of veterinary surgeons across animal health and welfare and public health

Mr Blackwell commented before the speech in Westminster at One Great George Street: “This week’s news about avian influenza in Hampshire highlights exactly why the expertise of vets matters in fighting disease and protecting human and animal health.

"In Hampshire, it was a local vet who sampled for AI when it became clear that the disease could not be ruled out of a diagnosis. Such vigilance and expert knowledge matters in a global world, where disease can be both pandemic and zoonotic.

“I will argue this evening that whatever party or parties form the next government it would be a false and dangerous economy to strip away a system of surveillance where local expertise is essential for a robust system of reporting and data collection.

“Vets are the guardians of animal welfare and we will continue to stand up for the highest standards of welfare for all animals. Top of that agenda is our campaign to end non-stun slaughter in the UK. Over 100,000 people have signed our petition and with this public support behind us – support that has been overwhelming and greatly appreciated – we will be urging the next government to listen to the force of public opinion on animal welfare at slaughter. We will continue to push for a full parliamentary debate on the matter.”

Mr Blackwell will address an audience of parliamentarians, policymakers, animal welfare groups, representatives of the farming and food industries, pet industry representatives, veterinary education representatives, veterinary surgeons and members of the press. Neil Parish MP, BVA honorary member and chair of the All-Party Group for Animal Welfare, will respond.

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