THE RSPCA today launches its new strategy – which will have a huge and exciting impact on animal welfare in Wales; as the charity pledges to reduce neglect, abuse and cruelty to pets by 50% and ensure a significant increase in the number of farm animals reared to top standards.
Rescuing and caring for animals will continue to be central to the RSPCA’s work in Wales – with the animal welfare charity continuing to call for statutory powers for its frontline rescuers to enable them to reach animals most in need more quickly, as part of its new ‘Together for Animal Welfare’ strategy.
Partnership working with other organisations across Wales and beyond is also a focal part of the ambitious new strategy, with the RSPCA stating it will not be able to meet a series of targets for animals alone.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said:
“Our frontline rescue and care work saving animals 365 days a year will continue to be at the heart of what we do.
“Despite being a global health pandemic with the country locked down for months there were still more than a million calls to our rescue line last year and our frontline officers looked into almost 100,000 complaints of animal cruelty.
“The need for the RSPCA is as great as ever and we are determined no animal is left behind.
“But the world is changing and we recognise we can’t do it alone. To achieve our ambitious aims for animal welfare, we will partner with volunteers, communities, RSPCA branches, colleagues in the welfare sector and beyond, to reach the animals who need us most.”
The RSPCA has also announced that it is exploring stepping back from its role as a prosecutor of animal welfare offenders – and instead of passing prosecutions to the Crown Prosecution Service, to instead offer a greater focus on its frontline work rescuing animals and investigating cruelty.
“Like all charities, we’ve faced unprecedented challenges in the past year due to coronavirus and our strategy reflects that. But at a time of enormous change and uncertainty about the future there are some things we can depend on. The RSPCA is one of them. We will rescue and protect animals for as long as they need us.
“We are particularly thrilled that this year could see one of our hard-fought campaigns to raise the maximum penalty for animal abuse from six months to five years become reality in Wales, but this also means a big change in the way cases are prosecuted and sentenced. Some of these cases will now move to crown courts and those carrying out the worst abuse could face lengthy jail terms. This places a huge responsibility on a charity’s shoulders. We believe this responsibility should sit with the Crown Prosecution Service, which is a statutory public body with regulatory oversight.
“Alongside this, we are seeing trends with cases with hardened criminal gangs involved in puppy farming, dogfighting, cockfighting or hare coursing, sometimes with millions of pounds changing hands. We are an animal charity and our concern is welfare but these complex cases can involve serious offences such as fraud or weapons. We have already seen puppy farming reports to us increase five-fold in a decade and with the increasing demand for puppies during lockdown we believe more of these complex cases will come our way.
The launch of the strategy comes at a pertinent time for animal welfare – with the 2021 Welsh Parliamentary election only months away. RSPCA supporters have – in recent months – been writing to Wales’ major political parties urging them to adopt policies contained within the RSPCA’s ‘Issues for the Welsh Parliament 2021-26‘ manifesto proposals.
The RSPCA feel proposals released this week from the Welsh Government on a ban on the third party sale of puppies and kittens in Wales is a useful first step in dealing with poor welfare practices too often associated with the puppy and kitten trade in Wales and continues to urge the Welsh Government to revisit many of the recommendations made by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group in a recent review of Wales’ dog breeding legislation.
A White Paper on a future Agriculture (Wales) Bill has also been published – a legislative agenda which the RSPCA hopes will ultimately lead to farmers in Wales being incentivised for delivering higher welfare standards on their farms; something that could enhance the lives of millions of agricultural animals in Wales.
The RSPCA hopes the animal welfare cause in Wales will be further bolstered in future years with the establishment of a legally-established, independent public body – an Animal Protection Commission for Wales; a central target in the new strategy.