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Government testing foot and mouth contingency plans
Exercise Blackthorn will simulate a large-scale outbreak that has spread from England to the rest of the UK.
Officials to assess current state of readiness

Government departments across the UK are working together to test contingency plans for an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

‘Exercise Blackthorn’ will see officials from DAERA, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, DEFRA and the APHA test all current contingency plans for an outbreak of the disease. The officials aim to assess the current state of readiness whilst identifying issues and areas for improvement.

“Regularly testing our contingency plans and joining up across the UK is an important part of assuring our capability to respond to disease outbreaks. Exercises like this provide an opportunity for teams across government and industry to engage and to learn lessons in a controlled and safe environment,” said chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens.
“The risk of foot and mouth disease arriving in the UK is low but ever-present. Government monitors disease outbreaks and incidence around the world assessing risk for the UK and taking action to mitigate risk where possible.”

Under the EU Foot and Mouth Disease Directive, Member States are required to exercise their contingency plans twice in a five-year period or during the five year period after a major epizootic disease has been controlled and eradicated.

Exercise Blackthorn will simulate a large-scale outbreak that has spread from England to the rest of the UK. The first simulation exercise took place on Thursday (8 February) and further exercises will be carried out over the next five months. 

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Survey seeks to learn about racehorse aftercare

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 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is launching a survey to improve understanding of aftercare for thoroughbreds. The survey has been emailed to trainers, who are asked to share their own experiences, with a focus on life after horses finish their racing careers. It forms part of an equine health and welfare strategy being developed by the BHA. 

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Charity welcomes new ambassadors

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has appointed the actor Anthony Head and renowned canine behaviourist, Sarah Fisher, as official ambassadors. They join existing ambassadors Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden, David Gandy and Jacqueline Wilson.

Anthony is best known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Iron Lady and Girlfriends. He has previously lent his voice to Battersea’s videos and appeals, as well as performing readings at the charity’s Christmas Carol Concert and Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

Meanwhile Sarah has worked across all three of the charity’s centres, offering advice in dealing with a variety of complex and challenging dogs. She has also fostered several Battersea animals and trained many members of staff in using the Tellington Touch method of training, to keep dogs calm and relaxed.