An animal rights campaigner is to present a petition on Tynwald Day calling for the Isle of Man to improve animal welfare by law.
Port Erin resident Roseleen Harrison has already presented Phil Gawne MHK, the Environment and Agriculture Minister, with an online petition with almost 1,500 signatures calling for a standard to be created for dog breeders and traders, and more statutory powers to be given to the Manx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
She has now launched a new petition – to be presented on Tynwald Day – calling for the equivalent of the UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006 to be introduced in the island.
However, Mr Gawne has told the Examiner that such a law was not a priority.
‘Without clear legislation and legal backing the welfare and safety of all animals on the island are at risk,’ Roseleen said.
‘This legislation would significantly help to hold puppy dealers accountable for their actions, and to make sure they are given fines, banned from keeping animals or even prison time in extreme cases.
‘With all organisations, you are governed by laws and regulations. Without an Animal Welfare Act allowing the ManxSPCA to intervene where they themselves see fit they have to continually educate the person, and agonisingly watch the situation, when all they want to do is to seize the animals and give them the care and attention they need.
‘The ManxSPCA is a wonderful organisation that desperately wants to do more. They see the abuse regularly as they are on the frontline, but are unable to do any more without legislation and legal rights.’
Roseleen started campaigning following reports of farmed puppies being brought into the island from Europe.
She described puppy farms as breeding facilities designed to maximise profits and often disregard the physical, social, and emotional health of dogs.
It was during her research that she discovered ‘a serious lack of legislation to protect our animals’.
High on her list of priorities is make it part of the government’s registered dog breeder requirements for breeders to enter into a contract with the buyer.
Under the contract, the buyer would agree to have the puppy neutered unless they were going to become a registered breeder themselves.
If the buyer breached the contract the breeder would then have grounds to take legal action.
‘This in itself would go a long way to stop irresponsible people breeding purely-for-profit puppies,’ Roseleen said.
In addition, she wants the ManxSPCA to be empowered to make unannounced inspections where they have concerns.
At the moment, the charity can’t do anything without having a vet or the police there.
The charity’s Margaret Mansfield said: ‘We will support Roseleen with her petition as much as we possibly can.
‘Any further powers that we can be given to ensure the welfare of animals would be great.’
Roseleen urged people in the island to contact their MHKs to tell them animal welfare was a priority.
And she called for people interested in getting a puppy to support the island’s many good breeders.
‘If it doesn’t seem right or you are worried for the welfare of the animals, walk away and contact the ManxSPCA straight away,’ she said.
Mr Gawne said: ‘We want to bring an Animal Welfare Bill forward in the next few years.
‘At the moment it is seen as a drafting priority, there are lots of Bills on our legislative programme.
‘If and when sufficient numbers of people start calling for the Bill, maybe we would be able to look more closely at it.’
It is hoped that paper copies of the petition will be distributed soon. Alternatively view and sign the ‘Bring in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to the Isle of Man’ petition at www.change.org