Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Supporter responses for Labour Animal Welfare Plan

Posted: 8 May 2018. Updated: 16 May 2018


The Labour Party has published a 50-point animal welfare plan, and is asking for your views! Animal Defenders International will be submitting our own comments on the plan, and have provided the following guidance points on the issues we campaign on, and have particular expertise, to assist supporters and members of the public with their response. Do feel free however to comment on any of the other issues covered in the plan.

Take action today!

Submit your comment here and before Thursday 31 May.

ADI guidance points – the following wording can be copied and used for your response

Section: Strengthening animal welfare in UK law

  • It is vitally important that animals are recognised as sentient beings under UK law to ensure they are not treated merely as goods. Such recognition acknowledges that animals feel pain, that they are aware and that they do not want to suffer, and ensures lawmakers take account of animal welfare when creating legislation.

  • Expanding the definition of animal to include decapod crustaceans and cephalopods (animals such as lobsters and squid) in line with other countries would be a much welcomed move. This reflects current scientific knowledge on the ability of such animals to suffer.

Section: Domestic Pets

Issue: Primate pets - Primates are wild animals who do not make suitable pets. Intelligent, social and complex animals, when kept in inappropriate conditions and/or isolation they suffer terribly, both mentally and physically. The difficulties of keeping adult animals can result in owners further confining and isolating them, or selling them on to a naïve member of the public, causing additional suffering. Immediate action should be taken to end the import and sale of primates for the pet trade.

Section: Factory farming and slaughterhouses

Issue: Foie gras – A proposed ban is welcomed. The practice of force feeding geese and ducks several times each day until their livers painfully swell to several times their normal size, can never be humane or justified.


Section: Wild Animals

Issue: Strengthening the Hunting Act – This plan is encouraged. 85% of the public are against fox hunting and 90% against hare hunting so closing loopholes in the law would acknowledge the longstanding support for the hunting ban and tighter legislation to bring an end to hunting with hounds, and the prosecution of those falling foul of the law.

Issue: End the badger cull – An end to the unscientific and widely opposed badger cull is strongly encouraged. Culling badgers is inhumane and does not meaningfully contribute to the reduction of tuberculosis in cattle.

Issue: Ban wild animals in circuses – A ban on wild animals in circuses is long overdue and should be brought in with immediate effect. However, this proposal should be extended to a ban on ALL animals in circuses. A full ban is supported by a public majority and acknowledges the inherent suffering of animals in circuses, regardless of species. The UK should strive to have the most progressive laws to protect animals, and join a growing number of countries who have already implemented a ban on both wild and domesticated animal species.

Issue: Introduce and enforce a total ban on ivory trading – Although the ivory ban currently proposed by the Conservative Government would result in a tightening of the trade in ivory, exemptions to the ban will remain in place. No form of ivory should be traded for commercial purposes – giving value to ivory items provides an opportunity for illegal markets to operate, fuelling demand.

Issue: Trophy hunting – A clampdown on the illegal wildlife trade and trophy hunting are welcomed. However, an extension to restrictions on the importation of wild animal trophies from species classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered should be considered. Those species classified as “endangered” and “vulnerable” are also “facing a higher risk of global extinction” according to the IUCN and the trade in their body parts should be restricted. The ban to species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora must also include those animals listed under Appendix I (threatened with extinction) and Appendix II (species for which uncontrolled trade is a incompatible with survival)

Issue: Tightening of regulations on fur labelling/phase in ban on fur imports – Fur labelling is not enforced, with many retailers unaware that they are selling real fur. Even where enforced, current labelling regulations do not go far enough – all garments containing any amount of real fur should be labelled as such, stating its origin. The UK has the opportunity to be the first country in the world to implement an import and sales ban of fur, alongside the existing fur farming ban, bringing to an end this cruel industry in the UK. Upon exiting the European Union, the UK will no longer be a member of the single market, meaning it will be possible to ban the import of fur.

Section: Animals in sport

Greyhound racing and horse racing are billion pound industries that exist for the purposes of entertainment and profit. As a result of the strain racing puts on dogs, they often suffer from a number of injuries and sicknesses such as broken legs, infections, heatstroke and heart attacks. A dog’s racing career usually ends at around four years of age; some of the animals are adopted into homes, however, the majority end up either living out their lives in shelters, or are destroyed.
The horse racing industry is no better. Horses are trained to race and begin racing before they are fully developed. This puts incredible strain on the horses’ legs and their bodies, causing irreparable damage. The use of whips in horse racing is legal in the UK (one of many countries); however, whips are banned in Norway.


Section: Animals used in research

Issue: Review of areas in regulatory testing – Themed reviews of certain areas of animal research is a logical way to begin replacing animal experiments with advanced alternative methods. The use of “second species” in regulatory testing should be a priority area. Monkeys and dogs are commonly used as a ‘second’ species in standard safety tests, often after thousands of smaller animals have been experimented upon. Animals can be saved and the process of replacing animal use with advanced scientific methods is good for human safety, too. The target should be to eliminate the use of these animals in second species testing.

Issue: Make animal testing project licenses open and transparent – Due to the secrecy clause (Section 24) of the Animals in Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA), there has never been true public accountability for animal experiments. Section 24 is at odds with the commitments to transparency and public accountability within the EU Directive 2010/63 on animals in research, and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) provides for the protection of personal information and confidential information. For project licences to become truly transparent and the licence evaluation process accountable, wider access should be given to project licence applications – the documents animal researchers have to submit to the Home Office for assessment of whether the licence is granted – giving the opportunity for experiments to be challenged and potentially replaced with non-animal methods, before they occur.

Issue: Contribute to the development/validation of non-animal research methods – The benefits of moving away from animal research must be acknowledged in the plan. Aside from the evidence of the harms caused to animals and humans by animal research there are economic and scientific benefits of greater investment and support for animal-free science. Non-animal technologies can be faster, more reliable and cheaper than using animals. They are better for human health, business and the economy and have been recognised as having the potential to drive economic growth. They attract business investment, fuelling the shift away from a reliance on animal research in the scientific sector.

Other issues which should be considered

  • A commitment to implement the thematic review of certain areas of animal research (see Article 58 of Directive 2010/63/EU and the Guidance to ASPA) should be made. This will allow systematic and critical examination of the scientific justification for targeted animal experiments to establish whether they should be abandoned due to poor science and relevance or because an advanced non-animal alternative is already available.

  • The plan should include the development of a timetable to phase out primate tests.

  • The capabilities of animals currently considered “lower” in terms of use in animal research, such as rodents and fish, should be scientifically reviewed with a view to revising how their suffering is considered in the harm-benefit assessment for evaluating project licence applications.

Section: Appointment of an Animal Welfare Commissioner

The appointment of a dedicated animal welfare commissioner is strongly supported, with the full engagement with animal protection organisations.

© Animal Defenders International 2018