Animal welfare officers handed more powers
Animals will have greater protection from cruelty after legislators gave the go-ahead for animal welfare officers to enter and inspect places where they are kept.
Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, told the House of Assembly that a law change means animals can be seized and housed safely while investigations are carried out.
The Care and Protection of Animals Amendment Act 2018 came in the wake of recent legislation to safeguard the welfare of dogs.
Mr Brown said those measures should be extended to “all domestic animals”.
Mr Brown told MPs on Friday: “This amendment will empower officers to seize animals, enter and inspect premises in relation to a suspicion of cruelty.
“This Bill affords immediate protection to animals found to be suffering cruelty.”
Mr Brown highlighted the five freedoms of animal welfare, which are freedom from hunger or thirst, discomfort, pain, injury or disease, as well as the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.
He added the five freedoms would be applied to all animal keepers including breeders, transporters, retailers, pet owners and marine mammal parks.
Mr Brown said that “absolute attainment” of the five freedoms was unrealistic and the context in which an animal is being held must be taken into account.
The House heard the Bill will strengthen the Care and Protection of Animals Act 1975 to benefit all animals “under the care of an individual”.
Mr Brown said there were other parts of that legislation that needed attention and that further amendments were expected to follow.
Cole Simons, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said he supported the legislation, but urged the Government to carry out a “wholesale review” of the 1975 Act to bring it up-to-date.
He also asked the minister to consider the introduction of a specialist vet for cattle on the island.
Mr Simons said: “The challenge we have had in the past is that we have a dairy industry but we don’t have a robust veterinary team that will address the dairy industry.”
He added: “It’s important that we have a proper bovine vet either in the private sector or on staff at the ministry to support that industry.”
The OBA member also suggested the introduction of an animal abuse register that would list people who have breached the law or treat animals poorly.
He argued that when animals are imported or sold, this would enable checks to be made to ensure they are being handed over to someone who is “responsible and will look out for the welfare of the animal and adhere to animal protection legislation”.
Mr Brown said that careful consideration would be given to the possibility of a bovine vet as well as updating other parts of the Care and Protection of Animals legislation.
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