Whose Responsibility is Animal Welfare?

19 June 2014

Article by Nia Seaton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service and Chris O’Brien, RSPCA Cymru


RSPCA Cymru logo stacked white


This week (16-20 June) marks RSPCA week. The theme this year, as the RSPCA celebrates its 190th birthday, is Whose Responsibility is Animal Welfare? The purpose of the week is to remind all relevant organisations and individuals of their roles and responsibilities to maintain animal welfare standards in Wales and to highlight action that can be taken to reduce the incidences of animal cruelty in Wales.

To coincide with this the RSPCA has published its Annual Prosecutions Reportwhich contains information on trends in reported cases of animal cruelty in Wales. This blog‑post has been prepared jointly with the RSPCA and outlines some of the key findings.

The importance of the issue is highlighted by the fact that 43 per cent of households in Wales now own at least one animal and according to the RSPCA, many Welsh politicians identify animal welfare as one of the issues most likely to be raised with them by their constituents.

What do the statistics for Wales in 2013 tell us?

The statistics contained in the report indicate that cases reported, convictions secured and offenders cautioned in 2013 all increased when compared with the 2012 figures.

This includes:

  • An increase in the number of cases of animal cruelty reported to the prosecutions department – up from 174 in 2012 to 199 in 2013;
  • An increase in the number of suspects reported in 2013 – to 318, up from 288 in 2012;
  • A total of 91 offenders cautioned in 2013, compared with 61 in 2012; and
  • 297 convictions secured by the RSPCA through the Magistrates’ Courts in 2013, representing a prosecution success rate of 100%, compared with 248 in 2012.

The report published by the RSPCA also includes breakdowns of these figures for regions in Wales and provides examples of the cases prosecuted by the charity in 2013.

It also highlights the problem of fly grazing – owners leaving horses to roam freely on farmland, private property, public spaces and roads without permission. The report states that the scale of the problem, particularly in Wales, has grown unchecked, to the point where the RSPCA, local authorities, police and other horse welfare charities are struggling to cope with the influx of horses needing help.

What action on animal welfare has the RSPCA called for as a result?

RSPCA Cymru welcomes many of the actions taken in Wales to date such as the ban on electric shock collars and the Control of Horses Act 2014 but calls on the Welsh Government to continue to use its devolved powers to find innovative actions to address animal welfare in Wales:

The fact that animal welfare is almost wholly devolved provides the opportunity for innovative solutions to be developed in Wales and, following the publication of these statistics, RSPCA Cymru will continue to call on Wales’ decision-makers to develop initiatives which promote welfare, tackle cruelty and promote responsibility.

More information on RSPCA Cymru’s work and campaigns can be found on their political animal website.

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