Alyn Smith MEP vows to champion animal welfare in Brexit deal

Scottish MEP and Honorary Vice President of the Scottish SPCA Alyn Smith has today backed a report from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) outlining key animal welfare areas that must be protected in the Brexit negotiation, and vowed to protect and defend existing animal welfare rules. 

Alyn, an honorary member of the BVA, said:
"We need to stop thinking in hypotheticals and focus on protecting hard-won animal welfare standards, which are very much at risk in Brexit Britain. 
"For evidence, look no further than the recent UK government trial balloon of handing over animal welfare codes such as on poultry to the industry for self-regulation. Fortunately this idea was scrapped after mass public protest, but it is an indication that this government views animal welfare not as a public good nor as a moral obligation but as a burden on economic operators and a drag on economic growth. 
"That's entirely the wrong attitude to have. We have an obligation to protect our voiceless friends, and so I welcome the BVA's report, which states that existing standards should at the very least be maintained at the same level, or a level equivalent to EU standards. 
"The EU has made some real achievements in the field of animal welfare. Animal testing for cosmetics purposes has been banned since 2009, and animal testing for scientific purposes is strictly regulated. Use of cat and dog fur has also been banned. Although it took time to implement, battery cages for laying hens and sow stalls have finally been phased out entirely.  The Commission has set up a number of forums to train vets in other countries in improved animal welfare techniques. And it looks like the Commission may take action soon to ensure harmonised identification and registration of pets across the EU. 
"We're in uncharted territory right now, and we need to ensure that animal welfare rights aren't seen as inconvenient rules to be binned at the first opportunity. In Scotland we generally have a good story to tell - for instance, the upcoming ban on wild animals in circuses - and lead Europe on levels of animal protection. I have no intention of letting these rights be taken away, and would like to assure animal lovers that I'll be doing all I can to protect animal welfare."