Profession lobbies UK Government on animal welfare post-Brexit

A 1,200-signature letter calling for Article 13 to be explicitly enshrined in UK legislation post-Brexit was published in The Daily Telegraph today (28 November).

The coordinated letter from the UK veterinary professions comes following widespread media attention after MPs voted down an amendment to include the principles set out in Article 13, which states animals are sentient, in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Enshrined in legislation

The missive calls on the Government to “ensure there is a duty on the state to have due regard for animal welfare in the development and implementation of policy“ and clarify how this will be enshrined in legislation after Brexit.

It states: “We support the principle of Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, which not only recognises animals are sentient, but puts a duty on the state to have due regard for their welfare in policy. This is the crux of the debate. British legislation sets out a duty on animal keepers, but we believe the same duty should be placed on our governments.“

The letter‘s signatories include 1,194 vets, RVNs and vet students from all areas of the industry, notably former UK deputy CVOs, officers of BVA specialist divisions and the CVO of the Scottish SPCA.

Misunderstanding

Named signatory BVA senior vice-president Gudrun Ravetz said: “The public and professional response to the Article 13 vote was astonishing, but there was much misunderstanding borne from sensationalist headlines that suggested MPs who voted the amendment down do not believe in animal sentience. The real crux of the debate got lost in this noise.“

Explaining why the letter was disseminated via The Daily Telegraph, she said: “We exist to represent the views of our members, enabling one strong evidence-based voice that will be heard at national level, in the Government and the media – and that’s exactly what this letter does, reaching more than 1.2 million people.”

BVNA president Wendy Nevins said: “It is essential the voice of veterinary professionals is heard in this debate and we hope the Government listens to the strength of feeling among veterinary nurses, vets and students. We support the Government’s call for animal welfare to be strengthened post-Brexit, but we must have the legal framework in place to achieve it.”