The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has challenged the next government to commit to taking action on animal welfare and disease prevention, including making sure the UK is ready and able to cope with the next emerging disease threat, when it arrives.
BVA president, John Blackwell, speaking to an audience of parliamentarians, animal welfare groups, farming and veterinary leaders in London, set out the organisation’s 2015 General Election manifesto, giving all political parties a five-point animal welfare and disease prevention plan to consider.
This included BVA’s challenge to:
- Listen to the growing public concern over welfare at slaughter, indicated by over 100,000 signatures to BVA’s online petition, and pledge that an end to non-stun slaughter will be fully debated by parliament at the earliest opportunity.
- Ensure the veterinary surveillance system of animal disease detection and prevention in the UK is robust enough “to spot the next emerging threat, the next BSE”.
- Lobby in Europe to protect vets’ ability to responsibly prescribe and dispense veterinary medicines.
- Overhaul legislation on the sale of pets to ensure best practice in the production and sale of companion animals.
- Embrace partnership working between government and the veterinary profession, recognising the unique skills, knowledge and expertise of veterinary surgeons across animal health and welfare and public health.
“This week’s news about avian influenza in Hampshire highlights exactly why the expertise of vets matters in fighting disease and protecting human and animal health,” added Mr Blackwell. “In Hampshire, it was a local vet who sampled for avian influenza when it became clear that the disease could not be ruled out of a diagnosis. Such vigilance and expert knowledge matters in a global world, where disease can be both pandemic and zoonotic.”
He also warned that whichever party or parties form the next government it would be a “false and dangerous economy” to strip away a system of surveillance where local expertise is essential for a robust system of reporting and data collection.
“Vets are the guardians of animal welfare and we will continue to stand up for the highest standards of welfare for all animals,” he said.