Monday 28th June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Andrea Jenkyns Portrait Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood) (Con) [V]
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard, and to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and all the hon. Members who have spoken so passionately on this subject.

The topic is close to my heart. I want to take Members back to the hazy days of 1986. Shadow was our family dog. He was a beautiful Labrador-cross—adorable, a real gentle soul—and we also had his mother, Suzie. One day I remember coming home from school aged 12 and she was missing from our garden. We contacted the police, the animal rescue centres and the council, but she was never found again, so I know what it is like when dogs go missing. As a family, we felt real anguish. As most of us who have pets know, our animals are part of our family. We felt real grief and loss not ever knowing what happened to her. Had microchipping been available then, we would have had a better chance of finding her. I believe it was first introduced into our country in 1989, just three years after we lost our dog.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is estimated that there are 51 million pets, across 12 million households, across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. With 44% of all households owning pets, including mine—I now have a miniature schnauzer called Godiva and rescue dog called Suzie—we are a nation of animal lovers who cherish our pets, and especially so in my constituency of Morley and Outwood. We have an annual dog show, the fantastic College of Animal Welfare, the RSPCA rescue centre, the Cats Protection rescue centre and the Whitehall Dog Rescue centre, where I got my own rescue dog, Suzie.

Over the course of the past year, we have seen how pets have become indispensable for so many people, especially supporting people when they have physical and mental health challenges. That is one reason that the welfare of our pets matters to us and why responsible dog owners will ensure their pets are microchipped.

The petitions call for two measures to be introduced, as was mentioned earlier: first, that vets must scan microchips of animals brought into them in order to combat pet theft, which we know is on the rise and, secondly, that vets should scan the microchips prior to performing euthanasia on any animal, to ensure that the owner is the person who has brought the pet in and that they are guaranteed to be aware of the situation. I am proud to support both these measures and all the measures that my right hon. and hon. Friends and Members from across the House have spoken about today.

If enacted into law, the measures in these e-petitions will help to reduce the suffering that both animals and their families face. They will ensure that animals can be reunited with the family that cares for them and that families can take comfort in knowing that everything possible has been done to help reunite them with their pets. They will guarantee that owners can fear less and if something has happened to their pets, in the saddest of circumstances, it maximises the chances that they will be there when they say their final goodbye. These measures are pure in their intentions, and I urge the Government to look seriously at them to further strengthen the great work we have already done on animal welfare in recent years.