New report from charity reveals the scale of difficulty councils face in providing animal welfare services.
The RSPCA today warned that animals could suffer as councils are being expected to deliver more welfare work with no extra money.
Cash-strapped councils are legally obliged to run stray dog services, care for pets belonging to owners in hospital, ensure pets shops and kennels are properly licensed, and protect animals from environmental health and noise issues. More recently they were also tasked to tackle problems with fly-grazed horses and will soon be expected to enforce even stricter conditions on an even bigger range of animal establishments but with no extra funding.
Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor are the RSPCA said: “Councils are under increasing pressure from budget cuts, and, sadly, animal services are often the first to be affected.”
There is no sign that demand for these services is reducing and if anything councils are being asked to do more crucial animal welfare work - with no extra funding.
“We are already seeing the impact of this in the number of services being cut or outsourced, the number of previously specialist animal welfare staff being given ever wider remits and, in the most extreme cases, some local authorities abandoning aspects of animal welfare provision altogether.
“We’re concerned that councils need more funds or animals could suffer. Everyone involved, at all levels of government, must start to recognise and value the work of the hardworking staff involved in protecting animal welfare.”
An RSPCA report - Ten Ideas in 10 Years - is released today as the charity recognises local authorities for pioneering initiatives to improve animal welfare through its PawPrints Awards.
The RSPCA’s report features the 10 best examples of ideas that have won the charity’s prestigious Innovator in Animal Welfare Award in the last ten years since the RSPCA PawPrints awards were created – innovation that makes a real and lasting improvement to animal welfare without placing a huge financial burden on the cash-strapped organisations who are delivering them.
The 10 ideas:
1 Multi-agency working
2 Protecting equine welfare and tackling fly-grazing
3 Promoting responsible dog ownership
4 Ensuring the welfare of dogs in kennels
5 Tackling the illegal pet trade
6 Ensuring animals are not forgotten in contingency planning
7 Protecting the welfare of pets in housing
8 Protecting vulnerable people – and their animals
9 Enforcement, education and prevention
10 Protecting farm animal welfare
Rachel Williams added: “The work that local authorities, housing providers, contingency planners, the police and other public sector organisations do to protect and improve animal welfare is absolutely vital and should be recognised and celebrated.
“However we feel there needs to be political will from elected representatives to stop animal welfare services from being sacrificed when budgets are tight or tightened further, and crucially, there needs to be more money, more guidance and more support from national governments to help protect animal welfare services and dedicated animal welfare staff.”
The report released by the RSPCA marks the 10th anniversary of the charity’s PawPrints Awards, and highlights the ten most outstanding initiatives it has seen over the last decade that has helped improve animal welfare.
This RSPCA celebrated the 10th anniversary of its PawPrints Awards this evening at a special ceremony in London. As well as celebrating the 97 Footprint Awards which were announced back in September, two special anniversary awards were given. The Innovator of the Decade was awarded to both the London Borough of Wandsworth and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities Civil Contingencies and Resilience Unit, and the Innovator Award was given to Forest of Dean District Council’s Street Warden team.