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Charity calls for political candidates to review exotic pet laws
A study found inconsistencies in exotic animal regulations.
Born Free asks that an incoming government addresses dangerous pet ownership.

The Born Free Foundation has called for the political parties campaigning in the general election to make a commitment to reviewing laws on exotic pet ownership in the UK.

The animal welfare charity says that, following a formal evaluation of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (DWAA), it has identified significant animal welfare concerns in the existing legislation.

The legislation allows some animals considered ‘dangerous’ to be kept by private owners, farmers and exhibitors if they have a licence under the DWAA. Zoos, laboratories and pet shops are currently exempt from licensing.

However the study has raised concerns about the lack of definition for ‘dangerous’ animals, and the inconsistencies it found in regulations for keeping the animals.

The charity found that the DWAA list of animals requiring a licence missed some clearly dangerous species, including large lizards and constrictor snakes. Furthermore, the revision of some species’ taxonomic names without a corresponding review of the DWAA list has meant some species have been dropped from the list for no reason other than a name change.

Born Free found evidence that some licences had been granted without authorities knowing the exact species being kept.

The DWAA licensing system is based on the idea that wild animals can be kept in a way which minimises risk to the public, while satisfying the welfare needs of the animal. As such Born Free says that almost any wild animal can be kept as a pet in the UK, providing the keeper meets a set of generic welfare requirements.

This raised circumstances where animals were not being kept in environments which met their needs, with the study suggesting a quarter of all primates may be being kept alone – despite their social requirements.

Born Free is therefore calling for a comprehensive review of the trade and keeping of exotic pets in the UK, with particular focus on the outdated DWAA regulations.

It suggests that political parties consider a ‘Positive List’ system, already implemented in other countries, where only species specifically added to the list can be kept – if the keeper meets certain criteria.

Chris Lewis, Captivity Research and Policy Manager at Born Free, said: “Current exotic pet legislation is reactionary and unable to keep up with ever-changing pet-keeping trends. It is also predicated upon the assumption it is possible to keep exotic wild animals in a way which does not compromise their welfare or pose a risk to private keepers.

“More and more evidence is emerging that challenges this notion.

“Born Free is calling on all political parties to commit to a comprehensive review of the trade in and keeping of exotic pets in the UK, including the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.”

The full study can be found in the journal Animals.

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.