Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Performing Animals Welfare Standards International (PAWSI)

  PAWSI is primarily concerned with the protection of animals which work in the audio visual industry. Over the last 15 years Rona Brown and Peter Scott have spearheaded a drive to introduce qualifications for personnel who wish to work with animals in the audio visual industries.

  This has resulted in qualifications under the NVQ system, levels 2 and 3 being completed and we hope to launch these levels at a PAWSI—Sparsholt symposium on 2 October 2004. PAWSI personnel with Skillset the skills sector council for the media industry have been working on this since 1989.

  PAWSI is also working with Lantra to produce level 4 and beyond.

  PAWSI has worked tirelessly with Henry Hoppe and his team on this Animal Welfare Bill over recent times and are always open to new and relevant ideas to promote a duty of care to animals in the media.

  PAWSI have produced a code of practice for persons working with animals in the media and this is available by request—please visit the PAWSI website www.pawsi.org

  This code of practice, which has been incorporated into other countries code of practice for animals in the media, should be a corner stone for animals which work in the media.

  PAWSI welcome the proposed Animal Welfare Bill with regard to its duty of care to animal owners and holders. PAWSI also recognise that the old Animal Welfare Acts are out of date and as such fairly useless in their powers.

  Like all Governments Acts—animal consideration in terms of welfare have moved on in enormous bounds—what was thought to be perfectly normal 75 years ago with regard to the treatment of animals is now thought to be perfectly ghastly.

  So—what's to do?

  With regard to animals which work in the audio visual industries—film—tv—theatre—live performances etc.

  PAWSI would like to see all personnel who train, work with, supply and or are responsible for supplying animals to the audio visual industry licensed.

  PAWSI believe that to licence animals is a fruitless and time consuming task that will never be viable—each person supplying animals to the media industry has on their lists thousands of animals which are available on a day to day basis.

  If the onus is placed on the supplier—the person responsible for the animal on the work place floor the welfare of that animal will be paramount.

  Every supplier has thousands of contacts with animals available to them at the drop of a hat—however if a particular breed of dog is the in thing—it is just as whimsically dropped so therefore a supplier may have a thousand Dulux dogs at his disposal—some may be good with children—some may be good with rain—and so on—some one else wanting to advertise something will not want a Dulux dog as it has been used. To licence all those Dulux dog owners is impossible—also they may never work in the media again.

  Also the working life of an animal is such that there is only a short "working window" when an animal is suitable to work in the media so the knock on time available is reduced to two or three years.

  PAWSI believe that personnel who supply and train animals for the media industry should be licensed and responsible for producing; animals which suit the brief; animals suitably trained for media work; personnel who understand the parameters of the media industry; animal species specific qualified personnel.

  With regard to other industries—there should also be an industry specific code of conduct/practice which allows an animal welfare paramount template. One thought does not necessarily fit all so the Bill needs to address different industries.

  PAWSI agree to the proposals throughout the proposed Bill through.

  1 to 43.

  PAWSI has concerns with regard to local inspectors—how are these inspectors going to be appointed and trained—the local authorities cannot cope now how are the proposed new comers going to take on board all the things proposed? Where will they learn all the industry specific nuances of animal welfare needed to judge if an animal is in distress or likely to suffer?

  With regard to Animals in distress—Clause 13—Other Powers in relation to animals in distress.

  How is an officer or constable going to kill the animal?—this must surely be down to a vet or suitable person in receipt of a humane killer. Do you mean we shall equip our animal officers with guns? How will this work?—this is over the top and not practicable—is this any different from what the law allows now?

  There are many such variants in this bill and these need to be addressed.

  With regard to Annex K—the idea that the RSPCA could be responsible for providing a national database of licences or even prosecutions would leave a loop hole for other animal rights organisations to have access to all persons—legal or otherwise and therefore provide a clear and direct route for extreme animal activists into the heart of persons carrying out their humane animal related legitimate business.

  Animal charities and pressure groups should have no power in government business nor be part of any database used in animal welfare. This would be in direct opposition to the human rights legislation.

  PAWSI agree with all issue relating to animal welfare as long as it is not subjective—we would ask as to who decides what is right or wrong? —obviously cruelty is not acceptable in any form but who decides what is and is not acceptable. If this is subjective who decides who is subjective or not?

15 August 2004





 
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