Protections for animals have been boosted this week as pieces of legislation banning the use of cruel glue traps and introducing fines for people who fail to provide the proper levels of care to their pets, zoo animals and livestock became law.
The Glue Traps (Offences) Act bans the use of inhumane glue traps which are a widely available method of rodent control but can cause immense suffering.
Animals can remain alive for 24 hours or more, eventually dying of stress, exhaustion, dehydration or self-inflicted injuries. Wildlife and domestic pets can also get stuck to the traps.
Under the Animals (Penalty Notices) Act people who fail to properly care for their pets, zoo animals and livestock could face fines of up to £5,000.
The measures in the Act will help drive up animal welfare standards closing the gap between warnings and criminal prosecution, and acting as an important deterrent alongside the current five-year maximum prison sentence for animal welfare offences, which was increased through the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act passed last year.
Under this new legislation, fines could be handed out by enforcement authorities to pet breeders who fail to microchip puppies before being rehomed, horse owners tethering their animal in a way that neglects their basic needs or a farmer transporting livestock that are not fit for travel.
In addition, the Government’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has this week also gained Royal Assent. This will create a new Animal Sentience Committee made up of experts from within the field.
Animal welfare minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said:
We are a nation of animal lovers and the passing of today’s legislation is a significant moment for the health and welfare of the country’s animals.
The UK, since leaving the EU, has been able to further strengthen its position as a global leader on animal rights. The penalty notice measures being introduced today will act as a powerful deterrent, building on measures we have already taken such as increasing prison sentences for cruelty offences. We will also be protecting wildlife and domestic pets from falling victim to inhumane glue traps, and we have delivered on our manifesto commitment to put animal sentience provisions into law.
The Glue Traps (Offences) Act will ensure licences to use glue traps are only issued to professional pest controllers on an exceptional basis, to preserve public health or safety where there is no suitable alternative. Licence holders would then need to follow conditions set out in the licence to ensure the welfare of any rodents is upheld, such as regular monitoring of set traps. This means those found to have used a trap without a licence could face up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
RSPCA Director of Advocacy and Policy Emma Slawinski said:
It’s a good week for animal welfare; the RSPCA has been campaigning on these issues for a long time. Glue traps inflict awful injuries on wildlife, pets and other animals; it’s high time they were banned.
Recognising that animals experience feelings and emotions is vital to help protect them and Fixed Penalty Notices will help to bridge the gap between advice and prosecution.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Michael Webb, said:
As a leading animal welfare organisation, we welcome the steps made today to further protect all animals. We hope that the new Penalty Notices Act will be an effective tool in clamping down on minor offences, including breaching microchipping regulations, alongside the continued use of the Animal Welfare Act to punish those who commit an offence that harms animals.
We look forward to working with Defra to establish in greater detail which offences will be subject to the use of Fixed Penalty Notices, to ensure the Act is as effective as possible.
A statement from the Government says these three acts will help build on their “commitment to provide leadership on animal welfare and revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK and introduce measures to protect the health and welfare of animals at home and abroad, as set out in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”