Animal Welfare Bill ‘more detailed’ now

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Sunday 4th September 2022 12:00 pm
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The Animal Welfare Bill will be put to Tynwald again with revisions after being rejected last year.

It was designed to provide new laws to give domestic pets more protection from mistreatment in the Isle of Man.

House of Keys members branded it a ‘half-hearted attempt’ and said it lacked detail.

Within the new Bill, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture will ask if Tynwald believes animals are capable of experiencing pain or suffering.

The term ‘animal’ has also been redefined.

DEFA member Michelle Haywood said: ‘We’ve defined animals in this one as any kept animal.

‘The last one talked a bit about companion animal but we’ve now broadened that out to any animal that’s dependent on humans for its wellbeing.

‘I think that’s a really strong, clear message about what we’re expecting.

‘Last time, there was a really strange bit in there about mountain hares. I think there were more words written about them than there were about welfare in the Bill.

‘Tynwald didn’t like it. They felt the department wasn’t clear enough about what it was trying to achieve or what the regulations might look like after that legislation was passed. It got bogged down in the mountain hares stuff, which will now be dealt with separately in due course.’

She feels the new Bill is ‘very explicit’.

‘It shows what we mean by animal welfare and it sets out for the first time that there’s duty of care,’ said the Rushen MHK. ‘The MSPCA has long pushed for freedoms for animals, such as free access to food and water and suitable bedding, freedom from psychological distress as it were. This makes it a much better act than it would have been.

‘We’ve been really clear now about what we’re trying to achieve and how we will achieve it. You can’t now sell or give away as prizes any animals to anyone under the age of 16 so someone is responsible for the care of that animal.

‘The penalties are also higher so it does supersede some of the animal welfare legislation that we already have.

‘I think members were right not to like the previous one. I’m very proud of this new legislation.’

MSPCA’s general manager Juana Warburton believes there will never be primary legislation that ‘fixes everything’.

She said: ‘How does one prove that an invertebrate can feel pain? There may be differing scientific views.

‘And in the Isle of Man we may have some “interested parties” who would oppose any form of questioning over whether crabs and lobsters can feel pain.

‘We’ve had lots of complaints over the years about how these creatures are not always humanely despatched.

‘We’re not going to get primary legislation that fixes everything, nor should it be overly detailed.

‘If the MHKs scrutinise the proposed Bill too hard they will invariably come up with questions. We simply need the primary legislation to be put in place, warts and all; and then we can move forward with detailed, specific secondary legislation.’

The second reading of the Bill is due for October.

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