“Animal Welfare Establishments in Wales are providing a critical and necessary service, as we can see by just how busy they are.
However, its credibility has been damaged by some awful establishments. I’d like to bring some examples to light of just why we need to Regulate Animal Welfare Establishments.
Since 2016 I have been watching the actions against a local charity in my region, Capricorn Animal Rescue, which was exposed in a BBC Wales undercover program – which my colleague Huw Irranca-Davies was part of.
The volunteers had been fighting for more than 3 years prior to this program airing, yet it was only struck off the charity register in September of this year! 8 years, and still there is no formal action from the charity commission against those responsible, nor a report from an inquiry which opened in 2017. The frustrations of the volunteers fighting here were solely looking at the Charity Commission as the only viable authority.
The key issue for these volunteers was that there was no one body responsible for stepping in and it was them that faced the brunt of the mental health burden and fiscal cost of fighting something that was so obviously wrong. On their behalf I have to publicly thank our local voluntary council, who helped these volunteers in every way they could and provided the only element of direct support available.
Again, within my region of North Wales, in 2019, another organisation from South Wales, Whispering Willows Horse Sanctuary, caused issues locally. Some simple investigations by local constituents exposed some very serious concerns with the
foundation of that organisation and in early 2021, the founder pleaded guilty to Animal Welfare Act offences and was banned for 10 years.
Only last week were 34 dogs and 2 ferrets removed from a farm in Snowdonia connected to a local Hunt.
Every issue like this puts massive strains on other Animal Welfare organisations when they’re closed, having to support taking in additional animals that were not part of their planned need.
The Welsh Government Animal Welfare plan can go much further, however a start is to regulate all organisations which are responsible for animals in our society. Its concerning that anyone can start an animal welfare establishment, regardless of qualifications or experience.
We must make sure that we are doing all we can to provide adequate resources and importantly powers to action AWE regulation and to properly investigate issues when they’re exposed.
Local Authorities will need massive amounts of support and education on major areas that are not their expertise. The issues outside of current licensed business and the complications which come with Charity legislation and the well-known difficulties with founders syndrome are a mountain to face without a thorough understanding.
We must listen to the experiences of those who have exposed welfare issues and create the regulations to require multiple organisations to work together to actively stop abuses, yet there must be a requirement to have a sole body responsible for stepping in and this must no longer be on the heads of volunteers.”
You can watch the Award Winning BBC Wales documentary here: