The RSPCA is urging council candidates across England to prioritise animal welfare, to ensure the cost-of-living crisis doesn’t have “catastrophic consequences” for the nation’s pets.
The call comes as the RSPCA launches its new local government manifesto, ahead of the elections in England on 4 May, which will see more than 8,000 local government seats contested within 230 council areas.
Local government plays a key role in animal welfare, and the RSPCA works closely with councils on issues such as enforcement, licensing, kennelling, stray dog provision, and more.
The RSPCA manifesto – ‘A local voice for animals’ – urges political parties and candidates to support a number of policies ahead of the election, including those aimed at:
- improving animal welfare enforcement;
- protecting the vulnerable when they need help – and their pets;
- stopping exploiting animals for our entertainment;
- celebrating local authorities who go above and beyond.
Local government enforcement, licensing and regulation is key in delivering high animal welfare standards – from providing statutory stray dog services, to licensing dog breeding establishments.
However, in the tough financial climate, many councils are struggling to deliver services and have had to cut back and resort to offering bare minimum services.
Lee Gingell, RSPCA Public Affairs Manager for local government, said: “We know new councils elected in May will have to make some really difficult decisions, but protecting funding of animal welfare services will be so important in keeping animals safe, upholding local standards and preventing criminality.
“We’re also urging councils to look at the potential for shared and pooled services – combining resources and expertise to tackle the illicit puppy trade, improve animal welfare enforcement and reduce animal cruelty.”
Gingell added: “The RSPCA works with councillors from all political parties, and independents, to secure a better deal for animals. Even in these difficult times, we achieve so much together for animal welfare.
“Our PawPrints scheme celebrates those public bodies who go above and beyond for animals – and we hope licensing, dog warden, contingency planning and housing teams at councils continue to gain unique recognition for their efforts for animals, and promote these services to the people and animals they represent.”