Animal Aid

JUNGLE JUMBLE SALES - New report blasts DEFRA plans

Posted 1 March 2004

The following update is reproduced from the Spring 2004 issue of Outrage - Animal Aid's quarterly magazine which is sent to all Animal Aid members. To find out more about joining Animal Aid click here.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) plans to introduce a new Animal Welfare Bill to modernize current legislation on the welfare of farmed, domestic and captive animals. Unfortunately, its current proposals include worrying changes to laws governing the sale of pets, and, in particular, exotic animals.

Birds on sale at the NEC bird market. Photo credit: Captive Animals' Protection Society

Sales in markets and public places could be made legal, even though pet markets are notorious for offloading malnourished, weak and diseased animals - as well as those who are simply considered 'difficult to shift'. They also provide a dubious outlet for unscrupulous sellers to pass on their stock to a largely unsuspecting public under unregulated conditions.

Animal Aid's response

In response to DEFRA's plan, Animal Aid is producing a hard-hitting report entitled Jungle Jumble Sales, which sets out the wider implications of the plan to legalise pet markets. We believe that to do so would:

  1. Place an unmanageable burden of enforcement on local authorities.
  2. Result in huge costs for effective policing.
  3. Massively weaken the current animal welfare standards set out in the Pet Animals Act 1951 (amended 1983).
  4. Increase threats to public health.
  5. Cause an increase in the trafficking of illegal and endangered species.
  6. Increase opportunities for the spread of disease amongst pet animals.
  7. Increase the probability of non-native species being released into the environment.
  8. Offer a disturbing and uncontrollable reservoir of infection, with the potential to introduce new foot-and-mouth scale epidemics into the UK.

New taskforce

Parrots capturedfrom the wild for the pet trade. Photo credit: Environmental Investigation Agency

As part of a newly formed taskforce of animal protection groups, Animal Aid intends to make local authorities, police and environmental/public health divisions fully aware of the dangers of these potential changes. The taskforce - supported by scientists, vets, public health consultants and legal experts - will campaign to persuade the government not to give in to animal dealers.

DEFRA is notorious for its knee-jerk support of vested interests and for its inability to produce data that justifies its decisions. The taskforce will challenge this with informed opinion and validated evidence.

Updated pet legislation would need to outlaw commercial trading or pets outside of conventional pet shops - such activities would consequently continue to remain illegal. There should also be far greater control over all accepted retail outlets. This principle should be the focus of the new Act.

Contact Animal Aid for a copy of the Jungle Jumble Sales. The report will be available later in the spring.

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