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Call for Welsh Government to adopt England’s new pet abduction law

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closeup photography of adult short coated tan and white dog sleeping on gray textile at daytime

The Welsh Government should ask the British Government to include Wales in plans to change the law to ensure that pet abduction is considered a dedicated criminal offence in England, according to the Welsh Conservatives.

Currently, pet theft is considered a loss of property by the owner, but ministers in Whitehall are proposing a change in the law that acknowledges the emotional distress it involves.

It comes following a recommendation in a report by the pet theft taskforce, which received evidence from welfare groups and experts, and found seven in ten pet thefts recorded by police involved dogs.

With the change only occurring in England, Wales’ Shadow Rural Affairs Minister has said the Welsh Government should urgently contact the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs so that is can also be adopted in Wales.

Samuel Kurtz MS

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Samuel Kurtz MS said: “Its great news that British ministers are looking to make this change as it truly reflects the trauma caused by the abduction of a pet. Our pets are considered a part of the family and can have a horrible effect on us, particularly children and vulnerable people.

“Given the widespread and cross-party support this change will very likely have, there should be no reason why it would stop at the border.

“Rather than take up the valuable parliamentary time new legislation will take up in what Labour already call an overworked Senedd, their ministers should ask to be involved the drafting process in London, allowing for simple adoption in Wales through a consent motion in the Senedd.

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“This way, those in Wales will not be disadvantaged compared to those in England, Welsh Government officials can still input into the process, and the Senedd can continue to work on other important matters without missing out on a much desired law change.”

(Lead image: Christian Domingues / Pexels.com)

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Pets

Unlicensed dog breeder jailed for mutilating puppies’ ears to increase profit

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An unlicensed Welsh dog breeder has been sentenced after mutilating the ears of American Bull Dog puppies.

Jedd Wiegold (aged 32) of Keble Court, Machen, Caerphilly received a custodial sentence at Newport Magistrates Court on 11 January 2022 for unlicensed dog breeding and a number of mutilation offences.

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He was sentenced to 5 months for each of 5 separate offences, all to be served concurrently. Wiegold is already serving a custodial sentence for unrelated offences.

Wiegold has since been disqualified from owning, keeping and transporting dogs for 10 years with a restriction for 7 years on applying to have it lifted.

The sentencing follows an investigation by Caerphilly Council’s Trading Standards team after information regarding the breeding of dogs and ear cropping was reported by the Police following an investigation into unrelated matters.

Evidence in the case shows that Wiegold has been breeding and selling American Bully puppies for at least 2 years. Between 24th March 2019 and 23rd March 2020, Wiegold owned, bred and advertised in excess of 3 breeding bitches and litters.

The breeding of his dogs and puppies for sale were advertised on social media platforms (That is Wild Tri Bullys Facebook page, South Wales bullys Instagram page and the Wild Tri Bullys World Instagram page). The full extent of his earnings is not known however puppies were advertised between £4,000-£6,500 and in some cases, up to £10,000 per puppy.

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Evidence obtained from his mobile phone also showed that Wiegold was involved in arranging/causing mutilation by ear cropping of puppies. The evidence suggests the procedure itself was carried out by an unknown third party.

One of the puppies whose ears were cropped by Wiegold (Image: Caerphilly Council)

Cllr Nigel George, Caerphilly Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection commented, “Demand for fashionable breeds of puppies is always high, so it can be a very lucrative business. We are pleased with the outcome of the sentencing and we hope that it will serve as a warning to other criminals who are looking to take advantage of animals for financial profit.

“If anyone has any information on potential unlicensed breeders please contact our Trading Standards or Licensing teams.”

(Lead image: Caerphilly Council)

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Restrictions on keeping monkeys as pets in Wales now ‘closer than ever’

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Restrictions on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales are now “closer than ever” – much to the delight of the RSPCA.  

It is estimated that around 120 monkeys are currently being kept as pets across the nation and RSPCA Cymru has long called for a ban.

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The charity has welcomed news that new conditions in the UK Government’s Kept Animals Bill, which will ban the keeping of pet monkeys except under licence, are now set to apply to Wales too.

This year, the Welsh Government shifted its position stating it was now content for provisions around primates to extend to Wales. Previously, as recently as January, Welsh Ministers had suggested they were not minded to ban the keeping of pet primates.

Last month, in the UK Parliament at committee stage, a series of amendments were unanimously backed which will allow the Kept Animals Bill’s plans for primates to apply to Wales.

Under the new UK Government plans, privately-kept primates will all have to be registered and inspected and, following a phase-in period, will not be allowed to be kept in England or Wales unless specifically authorised under licence.

Owners will need to meet certain conditions, including related to the animals’ environment, diet, accommodation and provision of behavioural needs. In Wales, these conditions will be set by Welsh Ministers.

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In order for this to become law, Senedd Members will now need to pass a legislative consent motion, and Members of Parliament will need to pass the legislation at Westminster, to ensure the rules apply to Wales – both of which are expected to happen.

A new Supplementary Legislative Consent Memorandum was laid before the Senedd last week (December 10), reflecting the updated, amended contents of the UK Bill.

RSPCA strongly supports the intention of the UK Government’s Bill to ban keeping primates as pets –  but does have concerns that it relies so heavily on a licensing scheme administered by already overburdened local authorities, and hopes to see the scheme tightened further during its Parliamentary journey in 2022.

Polling for the RSPCA found 72 per cent of people in Wales support a ban of the keeping of all primates as pets; but estimates suggest approximately 120 monkeys are currently kept as pets across the nation.

Dr Ros Clubb, from the RSPCA’s wildlife department, said: “Recent amendments to the UK’s Kept Animals Bill are really positive as, following a change of position from the Welsh Government, they mean restrictions on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales are closer than ever.

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“As recently as January, the Welsh Government wasn’t publicly minded to ban. But the RSPCA kept campaigning on this issue, and we’re really pleased that these provisions in the Kept Animals Bill are now set to apply in Wales.

 ”The RSPCA is clear that meeting the needs of monkeys and other primates is practically impossible in the domestic environment. Despite this, estimates say around 120 live this way in Wales – which is a real cause for concern; so we really need to see a strengthened Kept Animals Bill come into law, and for the Senedd to pass the LCM.

“The public in Wales have shown strong support for a ban – so we hope the Welsh Government will use their powers to ensure the conditions in which a primate can be kept are evidence-based and set a sufficiently high bar; and that the Bill ultimately doesn’t place too much pressure on already overstretched local authorities.”

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RSPCA

Concern as pets absent from Wales’ new homelessness action plan

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man in blue denim jeans sitting beside white short coat dog

The needs of animal-owning homeless people, and their pets, must be a key consideration in the Welsh Government’s strategy to end homelessness. That’s the call from RSPCA Cymru – as an action plan to end homelessness in Wales is published by Welsh Ministers.

The action plan does not presently reference animal welfare –  but, ahead of a difficult winter, the charity is urging the Welsh Government and local authorities to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not required to choose between accessing safe and secure accommodation and keeping their pets.

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Estimates suggest 10 percent of homeless people have a pet – with dogs being the most common companions.

Local authorities must also publish homelessness strategies in Wales under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 – but research from the RSPCA found none of the 22 make reference to animal welfare.

Reports have suggested only eight hostels in Wales presently operate a dog-friendly policy. The Senedd also heard in 2019 that 18 of Wales’ 22 local authorities had no dog-friendly hostels at all.

RSPCA Cymru believes the Welsh Government should work in partnership with local authorities and providers of accommodation for homeless people to ensure the fear of losing pets is not providing a barrier to vulnerable individuals accessing services.

There’s also calls for model tenancy agreements to be introduced in Wales, discouraging landlords from imposing blanket bans on pets unless there is justifiable reason to do so.

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Billie-Jade Thomas, RSPCA public affairs adviser, said: “As the Welsh Government unveils its plan to combat homelessness in Wales, it is vital the needs of those with pets, and the animals themselves, are considered.

“We’re worried that too many people are having to choose between accessing services and their pets – and that’s incredibly tragic and unacceptable.

“While local authorities must already publish homelessness strategies, unfortunately our research has found that none currently mention animal welfare.

“As the Welsh Government takes forward its new action plan, work with local authorities and providers of accommodation will be key to ensure pet ownership is not proving a barrier to people accessing lifelines of support.

“It’s also vital the whole housing sector in Wales is better equipped at welcoming pets – and that’s why we think model tenancy agreements for the rented sector will be crucial; allowing pets as the default position. Across the UK, 7% of private landlords advertise pet-friendly properties – a situation likely to improve in England with the new model tenancy agreements there; and it’s vital Wales doesn’t fall behind.”

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RSPCA Cymru was one of the six charities who previously worked with Jack Sargeant MS on the creation of a Pet Friendly ‘Paw-licy’ for Wales.

The report made a host of recommendations to tackle issues relevant to Wales’ homeless animal owners – including facilitating the provision of pet friendly accommodation, training staff on understanding the benefits of pet ownership for homeless people and highlighting the benefits of positive pet policies for tenants to social housing providers and the private rented sector.

Jack Sargeant MS, who represents Alyn and Deeside, added: “My involvement in this was inspired by a conversation with a homeless man about his pet. His story about not being able to access accommodation and keep his dog, really struck a chord with me. As a dog lover myself I strongly feel no one should be faced with this heart-breaking decision.

“I completely agree with RSPCA Cymru and I hope the Welsh Government will consider pet welfare in their plans to end homelessness and take onboard the recommendations set out in the pet friendly policy.”

(Lead image: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels.com)

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