Pet Gazette March 2019 - Page 16

16 | PET GAZETTE | SOAPBOX ANIMAL WELFARE AND BREXIT: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? While the consequences of the UK leaving the EU remain relatively unknown we can make some predictions about what will happen with regards to animal welfare post-Brexit. Luna Williams ponders the possible changes to the sector in this article W ith Brexit-day looming, important topics are being discussed. People are asking questions. What will happen to business after Brexit? What about the NHS? How will travel and tourism be affected once Free Movement has ended? While the answers to these questions are certainly important, there are other questions being asked, many of which are struggling to be heard over the noise. What about animal welfare? Is Brexit going to be good or bad for its future? Historically, changes to British animal welfare regulations have been restricted by our membership to the EU. This was touted by Leave campaigners before the referendum as a reason to exit the union, with Brexiteers arguing that the EU was responsible for implementing immovable regulations for the treatment of farm animals, which were not open to improvement. However, with over 80% of our current animal welfare legislation implemented by EU law, there is a growing concern that Brexit could just as equally jeopardise the future of animal welfare in Britain, for the sake of trade and economic interest. With Brexit imminent, the welfare of animals is at a crossroads. Leaving the EU could either make or break its future. EU ANIMAL WELFARE REGULATIONS For example, the USA has signifi cantly poorer animal welfare regulations in place to regulate the living conditions of their farm animals; they As it stands, the EU is responsible for 40 of the still use conventional battery cages for chickens, UK’s 50 animal welfare regulations, equating to 80%. Each of these regulations is focused on give growth hormones to their cows and use monitoring and improving the wellbeing of wild traditional sow stalls to store their pigs. All of these factors result in a much poorer quality animals, animals in agriculture, companion of life for animals, who are either forced to animals and animals used in medical and grow to unnatural sizes or kept in conditions in cosmetic research. which they cannot take more than one or two The Lisbon Treaty is a binding agreement steps forwards or backwards. These types of between all EU states which recognises that practices have been proven to cause signifi cant animals are sentient, able to experience pain and suffering. This treaty agrees that, as a result amounts of stress in animals; with many of this, all animals should be treated humanely suffering from a shorter life-span, fur/feather and with compassion. The treaty is responsible loss and anxiety-related behaviours. Although leaving behind EU regulations for the basis of many of the regulations put will mean that the UK can alter their animal in place by the EU to protect animals and welfare regulations for the better, Brexit could minimise the stress and pain which is infl icted also mean the opposite. If the UK becomes a on them in each of the key environments. key trade partner with countries like the USA Because of this, animal rights activists are which are not regulated, there is a risk that focussed on ensuring that the UK continues to it will adopt some of these same practices. recognise animal sentience when it leaves the EU and is no longer subject to The Lisbon Treaty For those who are concerned about animal rights, this would mean that the UK is moving and other EU regulations. backgrounds in their approach to animal welfare as opposed to forwards. TRADE The future of animal welfare needs to be secured and ideally improved after Brexit. WORKERS However, hypothetical future trade agreements With countries like the US as major trade are causing many to be fearful of whether this partners, British farmers will need to compete will be the case. with cheaper imports in order to avoid losing March 2019