What’s the Game With Animal Welfare – asks Liberal Vannin

The government has launched a consultation process on the proposed Animal Welfare Bill. It’s an issue that the Liberal Vannin party says it’s been been campaigning on for a long time.

Party leader, Ramsey MHK, Lawrie Hooper, has pressed for regular updates on the progress of proposed legislation.

In August last year, as part of his campaign in the Douglas South by-election, Liberal Vannin candidate, Michael Josem, called for: 

The protection of service animals such as police dogs by supporting the introduction of Finn’s Law in the Isle of Man. 

Tougher penalties for animal abusers.

Opposition to the Government’s proposal to bring in partridges for the purpose of shooting them. 

 Support for barring people convicted of animal cruelty from keeping animals 

Banning electric shock collars for pets 

Whilst welcoming the fact that the bill is finally seeing the light of day, Liberal Vannin says its provisions fall far short of expectations, and – as it stands, could and should have been brought before Tynwald some years ago. 

The party further outlined its concerns in a media release:

The maximum penalty for animal cruelty does not include a custodial sentence. Raising the maximum fine from £5,000 to £10,000 sends entirely the wrong signal. People who are gratuitously and regularly cruel to their pets should be imprisoned.

Reclassifying mountain / blue hares as game, rather than vermin will do little to afford these animals additional protection: “This measure smacks of the Minister trying to find another outlet for game shooting, following the outcry at his suggestion to import partridge to the Island,” the party states.

Liberal Vannin calls for the Animal Welfare Bill to mirror recent legislation in Scotland. MSPs voted to give Mountain Hares year-round protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and prevent their killing or injuring, unless subject to a specific licence to cull.

Provision, the party states, should be made for the theft of a companion animal to be made a specific crime: “The bill is largely an enabling bill for future regulation and as such is a wasted opportunity to immediately safeguard the welfare of our companion animals,” concludes Liberal Vannin’s statement.