EU Transport Of Animals - Cats Excluded!
A NEW EU directive designed to protect the welfare of animals during transport which was set to curtail the freedom of movement of animals bred by hobbyists – including cat breeders and exhibitors - has been examined by DEFRA officials following representations from cat fanciers. An exemption has now been granted for cats carried to shows and for non-commercial purposes.
As reported previously, the Regulation aims to improve animal welfare through raising transportation standards. In particular, it provides significant improvements in enforcement capability in respect of all species. The new rules are generally supported by farming industry and welfare groups.
According to the EU document, any transport of animals undertaken as part of a business or commercial activity, which ‘aims at achieving financial gain, whether direct or indirect, for any person or company involved with the transport’ will be covered by the regulations.
This would include:
• Pet animals where the movements are related to economic activity e.g. pet breeders, dog racing, those taking part in filming e.g. advertisements that involve financial gain;
• Those where animals are transported in order to be sold.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched a consultation document to all interested parties - which included the GCCF - but all submissions on this far-reaching and wide-ranging subject closed at the end of July.
However, DEFRA had given no indication of whether or not they intend to issue guidelines exempting hobbyists from the regulations. One cat fancier was even told by DEFRA Minister Ben Bradshaw that the interpretation of the Directive would be “a matter for the courts to decide”. As things stood, the application of the regulation to cat and dog fanciers depends entirely on how the regulation is interpreted by individual officials.
Dr Raymond Wigley, Secretary of the Singapura Cat Club and the Singapura Breed Advisory Committee had investigated the matter fully and was very concerned at the lack of apparent concern by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. At his behest, the GCCF submitted a very detailed written response to DEFRA.
The response covered all areas of concern to cat fanciers and included observations on showing, transport of cats to show and breeding, in which the GCCF pointed out that cat fanciers do not consider their hobby breeding to be ‘economic activity’ and therefore it should not be treated as such under the terms of the directive.
The GCCF summed up their findings in the conclusion to their response which reads as follows:
‘The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy therefore submits that, in the interests of all concerned especially the welfare of the cats themselves, cat owners, breeders and exhibitors who register their cats with a recognized bona fide organisation with jurisdiction in the UK and/or who show their cats at shows licensed by such an organisation should be excluded (derogated) from the requirements of EU Regulation 1/2005 on the Welfare of Animals During Transport.’
Late last week, it was confirmed by DEFRA Minister Ben Bradshaw that cat hobby breeders are to be excluded from the scope of the regulation, when the income source does not exceed the expenses of the hobby.
Dr Wigley told OUR DOGS: ‘The Minister has also confirmed that there will be a derogation for non-farmed species from eight hours to 12 hours when the journey is commercial. The vehicle will be excluded from the inspection and approval requirements. An Authorisation will still be required.
‘Given that nearly all journeys would be hobby/show related, and that no money is made from the hobby, the regulation is unlikely to affect cat breeders.’
The derogation in favour of cat fanciers represents the culmination of a great deal of careful work by Dr Wigley and officials of the GCCF. Along with the many individual representations made by individual cat fanciers, this result proves that such ministerial misunderstandings can be corrected if enough people take the trouble to make officialdom listen.
OUR CATS salutes all concerned for their concerted efforts. The freedom of cat enthusiasts to pursue their hobby remains intact… At least until the next raft of directives comes along.
by Nick Mays