Animal Welfare Bill Consultation
The government has launched a consultation process on the proposed Animal Welfare Bill. Details can be found at:
Liberal Vannin have been campaigning on this issue for a long time, with our party leader, Lawrie Hooper, MHK for Ramsey, regularly seeking updates on progress. In August last year, as part of his campaign in the Douglas South by-election, Michael Josem, Liberal Vannin candidate called for:
- The protection of service animals such as police dogs by supporting the introduction of Finn’s Law in the Isle of Man.
- Tougher penalties for animal abusers.
- Opposition to the Government’s proposal to bring in partridges for the purpose of shooting them.
- Support for barring people convicted of animal cruelty from keeping animals
- Banning electric shock collars for pets
(Details at: A Strong Voice for Animal Welfare – Michael Josem)
Whilst welcoming the fact that this bill is finally seeing the light of day, Liberal Vannin are dismayed that it falls so far short of expectations. As it stands, it could and should have been brought before Tynwald some years ago. Roseleen Harrison petitioned Tynwald on this issue in 2014, following which a Select Committee was established in 2016. Chaired by Liberal Vannin MHK at the time, Kate Beecroft, this committee made a number of recommendations, as noted in the report:
This 6-clause enabling Bill, that apparently was impossible to be drafted sooner because of “time pressures”, does nothing to address any of the recommendations, but merely provides a vehicle for future reform.
We are particularly concerned that:
Provision should be made for the theft of a companion animal to be made a specific crime.
The bill is largely an enabling bill for future regulation and as such is a wasted opportunity to immediately safeguard the welfare of our companion animals.
Reclassifying mountain / blue hares as game, rather than vermin will do little to afford these animals additional protection. This measure smacks of the Minister trying to find another outlet for game shooting, following the outcry at his suggestion to import partridge to the Island. Liberal Vannin calls for the Animal Welfare Bill to mirror recent legislation in Scotland. MSPs voted to give mountain hares year-round protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and prevent their killing or injuring, unless subject to a specific licence to cull.
The maximum penalty for animal cruelty does not include a custodial sentence. Raising the maximum fine from £5,000 to £10,000 sends entirely the wrong signal. People who are gratuitously and regularly cruel to their pets should be imprisoned.