Pet Identification

Martyn Day Excerpts
Monday 17th June 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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HM Treasury
Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP) - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:30 p.m.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered e-petition 229004 relating to the identification of pets.

The petition calls for compulsory scanning of the microchips of all cats that are injured or have died in road traffic accidents and are collected by councils at roadsides, on paths and in all other locations. Dog owners have also supported the petition because it has implications for all pets found deceased on council roads and paths.

The Gizmo’s Legacy petition has met its target because we are a nation of animal lovers. Forty-nine per cent. of UK adults own a pet, with 11.1 million pet cats and 8.9 million pet dogs across the UK. This debate is about the human suffering caused by a family pet going missing. Pet owners suffer terribly when their cat or dog goes missing. Everyone knows someone whose cat or dog has disappeared, and the frantic searching that ensues. Everyone has seen attached to lampposts the desperate posters that often offer a reward, the photos in shop windows, or the social media posts on community pages from cat owners pleading with everyone to check their sheds and garages for a beloved missing cat. I get a little anxious when my fellow goes out in the summer and does not come home at night, which he does a few nights a year. So far, he has always eventually returned home.

Pet owners never give up searching when there is hope. Sadly, their time and money are often wasted chasing a lost cause because their council has no clear policy. Some councils are better than others, but there is no consistency between them, and on occasion there is even variance within a single council. This debate is about how council staff following a few simple procedures can halt years of searching and heartache for pet owners, who live in hope of a miracle that will never happen. Often, the not knowing hurts the most for those pet owners—if only owners of a missing pet had a crystal ball to find out whether their cat or dog is still alive and well. We do not have crystal balls, but we do have microchips, and much more could be done to make use of them.

The Gizmo’s Legacy petition was created by Helena Abrahams, who is sitting in the Public Gallery. She is a cat owner, cat-sitter and volunteer who scans microchips and has reunited hundreds of deceased cats with their owners every year. Not all pets are microchipped, so she photographs each pet she finds. It is a heartbreaking task, but Helena knows that if she does not do it, there is a risk that the pet will simply end up in landfill and the owner will have no chance even to collect the body to bury or cremate it.

James Frith (Bury North) (Lab) Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:34 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is making a compelling opening speech, which will resonate well beyond this Chamber. I put on the record my admiration for the determination and passion shown by Helena and her team of volunteers. At its heart, their argument is about our compassion at the worst moment for a pet owner or parent—for all intents and purposes, pets are family members. We are asking for standard and consistent practice across the country that is supported by law—a Government looking for a legacy could implement that now—to ensure that a cat that has been involved in a traffic accident or killed in some other way is returned to his or her mum or dad through scanning. It is a simple process and many local authorities are already picking such animals up.

Pets should not end up in landfill but be returned to the arms of their mum and dad. Otherwise, even in this time of austerity, we risk having councils with all the parts but no heart. I hope that the attention and support shown by the 100,000-plus signatures collected by my constituent Helena and her team set a trend of expectation of changes in law to end that practice quickly and reunite parents with their cats.

Break in Debate

James Frith Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:34 p.m.

Thank you, Sir Roger.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:34 p.m.

I am very grateful to the hon. Member for Bury North (James Frith) for his intervention—he made some fantastic points with which I agree entirely. I join him in praising his constituent Helena Abrahams for the absolutely fantastic work she does.

As part of sharing so many lost and found cats on social media, Helena set up the first deceased cat group on Facebook, “Deceased Cats UK and Ireland”, after she lost her beloved cat Gizmo, who was chipped but was not scanned and was disposed of in the most horrific way. Through that group, it came to light that so many cats throughout the UK were being disposed of like trash, without councils scanning them for microchips. The general public witnessed councils throwing cats in the back of refuse trucks and caged vans. Helena realised that for the sake of her other cats and all cats nationwide, she needed to take action, so she set up the Gizmo’s Legacy petition. Within six months, it had over 107,000 signatures, which is a tremendous effort.

Helena joined forces with It’s All About The Animals, Pet Theft Awareness, Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance, Animals Lost and Found in Kent, Vets Get Scanning, Harvey’s Army, DogLost, and Cats Protection. These organisations all recognise that no unified procedure is in place for when dead pets are recovered under council jurisdiction. Gizmo’s Legacy has been campaigning since 2016. The founding members include Wendy Andrew, Angela Hoy, Beryl Beckwith, Geoff Sharp, June Jeffrey, and Valerie Peachey. They have tirelessly raised awareness about the issue and the devastating impact on owners and their families. The mental health implications for owners who never get the closure of knowing what happened to their beloved pet cannot be underestimated.

We already scan dead pets found on the motorway and on the strategic road network—a positive move following the work of Harvey’s Army, which secured Harvey’s Law. Harvey was a miniature poodle who went missing in November 2013; he was microchipped and wore a collar and tag. Just 21 minutes after he went missing, his body was recovered; it was stored and then cremated, yet no contact was made with his owners, who, with friends, searched for 13 weeks before discovering what happened to him. Harvey’s Army is a registered charity and has grown to include more than 300 volunteers across England, Scotland and Wales, who are active in trying to identify and connect families with their lost pets.

Following a parliamentary debate in 2015, the Government committed to requiring Highways England to scan all pets found and, if a microchip is found, to inform the owners. Similarly, Transport Scotland has been mandated to scan pets collected on its strategic road network. However, most cats are killed on minor roads, and what to do remains at the discretion of local authorities. Gizmo’s Legacy calls for the same model to be implemented on council roads, paths and all locations that councils collect from, to ensure the same empathy and respect for cats and dogs wherever they are found.

Some councils already have a procedure in place, but it varies from council to council; “best practice” is followed very loosely and often ignored, or it relies on animal-loving council staff with an understanding of how they would feel if their own pet were found dead. Some councils, such as Leeds Council, do not even scan.

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab) Hansard

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on having secured this debate. I am an owner of several cats. My first cat was killed before my eyes when I was aged about six; he jumped in front of a lorry, and I knew what had happened to him.

In the past two years, we have lost three cats. The only way that we could discover what had happened to them was by producing posters and the children in my family going door to door, asking people in the area if they knew what had happened to those cats. We discovered that each of them had been knocked down by a car. The council in the area in which we live has a policy of reporting cats that are chipped to the owner when their cat is killed, but the council did not report on any of those three occasions. I congratulate those who are attempting to get a firm policy throughout the country that is not dependent on someone’s postal code, because the loss of a cat is almost the same for a family as the loss of a human being.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:39 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for that wonderful personal example, which highlights the problem exactly: councils have policies but may not follow them. The distress caused by people having to search—going to great lengths and incurring expense—amounts to an inhuman way of treating our own citizens.

Many will know that I have a cat called Porridge who is very much part of my family in West Lothian where, I am delighted to say, the council recently reviewed its practice and will implement a revised policy from July. It will ensure that pets killed on roads are collected, checked for identification chips and reported to Petsearch, which will contact the owners. The council will store pets in a freezer for up to seven days to allow for notification and collection, with unclaimed pets then being cremated. That is a good example of best practice, and I am glad it is coming in. We should encourage more such practice around the country.

Let me read an account in Helena Abrahams’s own words:

“I was asked to go and retrieve a deceased cat in Bolton. When I arrived unfortunately I witnessed the council cage van already attending. The council worker proceeded to throw the dead cat in the back with the rubbish while laughing quite openly with the driver of the van.

I was absolutely infuriated by what I witnessed and was determined to somehow rescue the body of the cat from them. When I composed myself I followed the van to where they were now emptying the street bins and approached the men never mentioning what I had witnessed but asking if they had collected a cat recently as I believed I knew the owner.

He proceeded to get the cat’s body for me and I quickly left the area and scanned it for a chip. He was not chipped but I left him with a local vet and used his photos to locate his owner on Facebook. Bolton council failed on more than one occasion and definitely don’t scan.”

That backs up the story we just heard from the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) about her council. It also illustrates the fact that council staff do not have a set policy to follow. The cat’s body could so easily have been placed into a separate bag, labelled up and handed to a designated staff member trained to use the simple scanner. That is another sign that not all councils take the collection of dead pets seriously. Bear in mind that all councils are required to scan dogs, so they have the equipment. There is absolutely no excuse for scanning not to happen.

Another message sent to Gizmo’s Legacy reveals more evidence that council staff are failing pet owners. This incident happened to Wendy Andrew in Oldham:

“A while back I went to pick up a deceased cat that had been reported via our Facebook group ‘Deceased cats UK and Ireland’, on Shaw road, Oldham. As I arrived at the location I saw a small road sweeper driving up and down the road and I parked my car and was looking for the cat. As the sweeper passed me he made conversation and asked me was I ok. I said, ‘I’m looking for a deceased cat reported in this area.’ and he then said, ‘Oh the big road sweeper just came and swept it up. That is what we are told to do.’ He then said there would be ‘nothing left of the cat now as the sweeper just sucks them up and annihilates them.’

I said, ‘Do you not pick them up and check them for chips?’ He said, ‘No they just go back to the depot and empty their loads on to the local tip.’ I did say, ‘That’s disgraceful. That was someone’s much loved baby,’ but he replied, ‘That’s what we are told to do.’”

All too often, that is what many council refuse people are told to do. From an operational point of view, I can understand it, but it is not humane and there is better practice that they could follow for very little extra effort.

In that incident we again see a lack of council policy, of respect and of empathy. All of that results in an owner still searching, knocking on doors, spending money on unnecessary posters and leaflets, and searching the internet for a cat they will never find. Perhaps a distressed family is not able to sleep at night with the worry that their cat is trapped, has been stolen or is being cruelly mistreated. We all know that pet owners never give up searching. The owner of that cat would surely rather know the truth.

I ask everyone to think for a moment how they would feel if they found out that their pet had been thrown into the back of a wagon and tipped into a landfill site like rubbish. To those who signed the petition, the idea of their family member becoming rubbish is simply abhorrent. A pet’s body cannot be brought back to life but the body is the owner’s property, and the owner deserves the right to choose what happens to it. Many councils are ignoring that.

The Gizmo’s Legacy team have had several high-profile names and organisations supporting them or helping to achieve the target that triggered this debate. Special thanks must go to “Emmerdale” actress Samantha Giles, BBC News, “North West Tonight”, “Granada Reports”, Eamonn Holmes, Ruth Langsford, the lost and found groups on Facebook, Dr Daniel Allen, Richard Jordan, Debbie Matthews, Deborah Meaden, the hon. Member for Bury North, Dermot O’Leary, Rachel Riley, the actress who plays Harriet Finch, Peter Egan, TV vet and campaigner Marc Abraham, DogLost, the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance, Cats Protection and Harvey’s Army.

Those organisations and individuals recognise the importance of pets in our lives and all share posts from the Gizmo’s Legacy Twitter and Facebook accounts calling for Gizmo’s law. In addition, the team thank the many radio stations that did interviews, all the newspapers that published articles and, of course, members of the public who worked tirelessly distributing posters to help get the signatures. All those people are animal lovers and understand that pets are valued companions to many folk—their pet is more than a family member and is often their best friend.

The way in which the country supported this petition has been heartfelt. It shows the passion people feel for the need for Gizmo’s law. Obviously, the general public were unaware of the practice of many councils, but are grateful to have had it brought to their attention and to have the opportunity to press the Government to amend it. Cats as well as dogs are part of the family. They are not a commodity to be disposed of on rubbish heaps.

For people to lose their cat or dog to a road traffic accident and never have the opportunity to say goodbye rips the heart out of families and wrecks lives. Why have their beloved pet chipped just to be disregarded and thrown away as trash? It takes seconds to scan a microchip, to get the details and to inform the owner. Given that we encourage microchipping as best practice, we need to follow up to make it worth while for people to do it.

James Frith Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:47 p.m.

To follow up on the hon. Gentleman’s point, this is about joining up policy. The policy and the legislation are there, and there is evidence of good practice, so this is about joining it up. For the policy not to stand in isolation, we have to apply the empathy. His point is well made. We can turn things around the moment we ask those same people to envisage that happening to their pet—to all intents and purposes, pet owners view pets as family. Underpin it by legislative change, yes, but this is about empathy, otherwise the policy stands in isolation, detached from people’s experiences. To give a worst-case scenario, when I met Helena and her team, we talked of an early-morning drive home from holiday and seeing a dead cat on the road. I, too, felt a sense of empathy—the idea that such animals end up not being returned to their families. That is at the heart of this, is it not?

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:47 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point—this is about empathy. What we are calling for is easily attainable within the current resources.

Ross Thomson (Aberdeen South) (Con) Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:47 p.m.

There is no question about the success of the compulsory microchipping of dogs. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that basing the need for the microchipping of cats on the risk that the animals pose to the public simply ignores the welfare of the animals in question?

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:48 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. This is not about the safety of the public. It is about the family’s wellbeing and knowing what has happened to their beloved pet.

The process of scanning can be done in minutes and is not a complex procedure. Councils that have a policy to scan deceased pets often leave the onus on the owner to contact the council within seven days, which is a pointless exercise if an owner is not notified or if the pet is disposed of without the owner being given the chance to collect the body, to bury or cremate it, and to deal with their grief. During the holiday period, people might be away for longer than one week, so seven days is just unrealistic.

Too often, there is a disparity between council policy and actual practice. We know that from various cases evidenced by witnesses and council workers. One such worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told Gizmo’s Legacy:

“Oh, we don’t scan them, we are told not to. We take them to the local tip, where they are thrown in a freezer until full then put into the refuse.”

Des Kane is a volunteer chip scanner with Harvey’s Army. He regularly pops by his local council’s storage facility in Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire, to check whether any pets in the freezer can be identified. He finds the council’s approach to pets found on the road to be very hit and miss:

“I find that the only real documenting of any such unfortunate deceased pet is the label attached to the bag in which they are placed. This label states the following: animal type, colour, where and when picked up from, and any distinguishing markings.

To my knowledge that is as far as it goes with documentation and I’m not aware of any other efforts made by the council to find a potential owner, i.e. posting on their website or social media. They do have an animal welfare officer who they call to scan animals when they’ve been lifted or they call me when he’s not available.

I’ve found the council staff at the facility very accommodating and helpful but I feel the council policy, as it stands, could be a bit more thorough in trying to contact a possible owner, although I know they are more proactive than some other authorities.”

Such volunteers do a tremendous job around the country uniting people with their deceased pets, but it should not be left to them or to the random lottery of what each local council chooses to do.

Cat owner Anita Short, a resident of Sunderland City Council, learned from a neighbour that her cat Toby had been collected by cleansing services. She then contacted the council and was invited to Sunderland council’s depot to see if Toby was in its freezer. Anita recognised her cat from his collar. She asked why her cat had not been scanned and the excuse she was given was that they did not have a scanner on them. Why does the council state that its workers will scan animals they pick up? As I said, they should all have scanners, given the requirement for dogs. The council was not following its own policy. Anita Short would have never known that her cat had been collected and was in a council freezer if it was not for her neighbour. Relying on best practice is meaningless if policies are not strictly followed, which is why Gizmo’s law needs to be implemented.

DogLost.co.uk is the country’s leading lost-and-found pets service—despite the name, it also deals with cats. It has a national network of volunteers. Its service is free but it relies on donations. Hon. Members have probably seen its posters attached to lamp posts or in shop windows with details of missing pets. Since the launch of DogLost UK in 2003, more than 105,000 dogs and cats have been registered as missing or stolen. Thankfully, nearly three-quarters of pets have been found. DogLost informs us that, in 2018, 9,029 pets were reported missing. At the start of this month, 24,201 pets were still missing, which means that many families are still searching. How many of those dogs and cats will have been recovered from council roads and paths but never scanned? We will never know how many of those dogs and cats have ended up in landfill because of lax record keeping.

Of course, not all animals are microchipped, so to be fair to councils it is sometimes not possible to find owners even when they scan. What we do know is that two councils admitted to collecting bodies of cats and putting them in the freezer, but failing to scan or keep any records. On questioning, they admitted remembering the description of two cats: that happened to Michelle Morton’s cat Cookie, which was in the hands of Blackpool Council, and Janette Barton’s cat Benji under Wigan Council. Both those cats were microchipped, but it appears that neither council bothered to scan, because they do not have to—it is only best practice. Councils make their own policies and do not even need to bother to stick to the rules that they have set themselves. It is too much to ask that they take a few minutes to scan for a chip, keep some records that can be easily accessed and contact owners to let them know the bad news, to give them the chance to collect their pet for burial or cremation?

Jeanette told us that she still cries over losing Ernie. The emotional connection between humans and pets cannot be emphasised enough. This debate is about human suffering, not the lost pet that has caused the human suffering. There are so many heart-breaking examples of families who have lost their pets. Gizmo’s Legacy detailed a broad range of them in the pack it sends to members, which highlights that there is a lack of scanning all over the United Kingdom.

The last example I will give is that of Wendy Turner and her cat Merlin, who was neutered and microchipped. After spending a day looking for him, she posted on Facebook and, following a last sighting of him, discovered he had been taken by the council. After contacting the council, Wendy was told that they would be in touch after they had scanned the cat, but that did not happen. She was then given the runaround, being passed on to different departments and being told that Merlin would be added to the list of deceased animals in a day or so. It was to be several weeks later before a vague description of a cat found in the area where Merlin was picked up appeared on the deceased animal list. Wendy says that

“it is two years since I lost Merlin and even now I feel that there is no closure. The thought of his precious remains being tossed away with rubbish or thrown into a furnace with no regard to him or his family I find very hard to accept. I only wanted to bring my boy home. This was the reason why I invested in a microchip. If it was not for the reply to my Facebook post I would still be searching for Merlin.”

People are spending real money to get their cats microchipped, so that when something does go wrong they can be reunited with them, whether alive or unfortunately deceased.

What can be done? Recommendations of good practice clearly do not work for everyone, which suggests that legislation for the UK’s 408 councils may be required. Local authorities are devolved, so we may need legislation in the devolved nations as well as in this Parliament. It takes minutes to scan a pet, log details and contact an owner—a small price to pay considering the human misery that searching for a pet generates. It is important that contact is made where microchips exist, and that there be a system to view photos of deceased pets where no microchip is found.

Our pets need improved protection. Gizmo’s law would mean that all councils would have to start scanning all animals they collect on all their roads, paths and locations and contacting their owners to give them closure. If the animals are not chipped, they should send images to organisations such as Deceased Cats UK and Ireland or DogLost, which will happily share them to help to trace owners. Councils could even set up a web page or social media site. It is not too much to ask to keep all cats and dogs for at least seven days. If local authorities do not have freezers, they can use a local vets. The petitioners are not asking for anything that is not easily attainable, and given the attendance in the debate, it seems they have broad cross-party support.

We need Gizmo’s law to help to protect the basic rights of pet owners: the right to not have a family member thrown into a landfill, and the right to know whether their pet has been found and identified so they can collect the body and start the grieving process. Pets are part of the family. It is unacceptable for councils to treat pets as throwaway rubbish. Now is the time to do away with the postcode lottery of random policies and often uncaring practices that are described by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as best practice. Campaigners and pet owners all hope that the Minister will do the right thing: make Gizmo’s law a reality.

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 4:56 p.m.

I thank the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day) for introducing the debate and explaining the real pain when a cat goes missing and no one knows what has happened to it. More than 800 people across the three Plymouth constituencies signed Helena’s petition. So many of them have shared stories of their own missing animals to stress how important this issue is—a fairly simple legislative tweak could make a powerful difference to those families. A total of 320 people in the patch that I represent signed the petition. It is clear that British people are asking us to demand an animal welfare agenda that is consistent in its application across the country.

Last year, 230,000 cats were killed in road traffic accidents. That is more than 600 every day. Since this debate started, roughly 12 cats will have died. Each of those incidents will mean a family will not see their moggy come home. Young children will ask where their cat is and everyone will be worried about them. We need to create a regulatory environment where, as much as possible, we value animals and their relationships with families. That is not too much to ask. Every animal matters and, importantly, every cat matters to its family.

As always before I speak in these kinds of debates, I reached out to people on social media. It will be no surprise that many people wanted to share the story of their lost cat—whether it came home, was found or is still missing in action somewhere and the owners do not know what happened. My own cat, the fantastically named Bumblesnarf—after Bumblebee from “Transformers” and Snarf from “ThunderCats”, obviously—went missing and, sadly, was found much later. I know the worry of not knowing where a cat is. We all know that cats have a mind of their own and will not do as they are told—unlike dogs, they will do as they please. Sometimes, they might just want to go out and have a play, but when they go missing there is so much heartache, worry and stress. Emma told me on social media that she was pleased that MPs are pushing for this debate. She talked about the cats that she has lost in road traffic accidents and the importance of microchipping. Others shared similar stories.

The petition calls for councils to have the same respect for cats as they have for dogs. I am proud to say that Labour-run Plymouth City Council treats cats the same as dogs in road traffic accidents. That is really important. We need to engineer out of our system the postcode lottery that the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk spoke about. We must also ensure that councils apply the rules consistently, especially where there are multi-tier councils or borough boundaries. As politicians, we recognise borough boundaries—some of us even recognise the boundaries between wards or polling districts—but for the vast majority of people, they just live in a community.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Hansard

Of course, some boundaries run down the middle of a major road, which is exactly where an incident may occur.

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 5 p.m.

I agree entirely. That is why it is important that the rules are applied similarly by every council.

As we heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), there is no statutory obligation to scan microchipped cats when they are found. However, I am proud that Plymouth City Council follows best practice and scans both cats and dogs that are found on roads. If, sadly, the animal did not survive the accident, it is kept for a further two weeks, so there is plenty of time for the owner to be notified and for the pet to be returned to its owner for a proper goodbye.

The law is only paper if it is not enforced, so we need to ensure that the regulatory framework is in place, that councils understand it, and that the people who work on the frontline, who sometimes get a tough time—those who collect the bins and clean our streets, for example—receive training and understand how important that framework is. Because of the level of cuts, we are asking them to clean more streets, or collect more bins, more quickly. Pausing to collect a cat adds extra work to their day, but it is important that they recognise the value of doing so; that empathy and connection—the thought that it could be their cat—is so important.

Break in Debate

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 6:04 p.m.

I made inquiries on the basis of the points that the hon. Gentleman and others made during the debate. I understand it would need to be through primary legislation; I made the point about adding cats to that Act.

Compulsory microchipping has also been highlighted, and I am taking the first steps forward on that with a call for evidence. I hope that hon. Members, despite their broader concerns, see that we are committed to taking action here. That will be a hugely important step forward, showing our intentions and sending a clear signal to local authorities that more needs to be done, not least in Scotland; if I was in the Scottish Government I would be trembling in my boots waiting for the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran to intervene and take further action there. However, we will take these actions forward, as I discussed.

The Government’s record on animal welfare is strong, and we will continue in that vein. We have a strong commitment to introduce increased maximum penalties for animal cruelty—I am working at the highest levels to move that further forward—and to look closely at the regulation of animal rescue and rehoming centres. As always in the debates we have had over recent months, I recognise the degree of cross-party support for the action being taken. It is because of that that we are able to take much of this legislation forward, and as the hon. Member for Stroud will agree, there is more to do.

We have already introduced stronger animal welfare controls on dog breeding and the sale of pets, including on the breeding and commercial sale of cats. The implementation of Lucy’s law, which bans the third-party sale of puppies and kittens, followed hot on the heels of Government support for Finn’s law, which protects service animals. The Government are committed to protecting and enhancing the welfare of animals, including cats, and we will continue to build on our progress in the coming months and years, hopefully on a cross-party basis like we have seen in recent months.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 6:06 p.m.

It has been a pleasure to take part in today’s debate. We have had a broad range of speakers from across the House, all showing a consensual approach—a very important point to emphasise. The request from the petitioners is for a simple legislative change, moving good practice on scanning into law, and it would be readily achievable. I welcome very much the comments that the Minister made and the commitment to move forward on microchipping, but I hope that he can make progress with the Minister responsible for local government on the scanning issue, too. I will be supporting my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) in pushing for Scotland to do that as well. There is a lot of positive work there.

Much has been said about microchipping. We heard from a number of organisations before today’s debate that of the cats being presented for rehoming, between 61% and 80% have not been chipped and many others have chip details that are out of date, so there is a lot of work that we need to do. The Minister’s comments will help us to move in the right direction, and I am very grateful for that; this really needs to be done.

I had a look at the DogLost site and saw a cat that was the spitting image of mine—albeit in a completely different area—so it would be easy to mistake one cat for another, but chipping removes the uncertainty. Blue Cross has given us details of a very positive case, and I have spoken about a lot of death today, so I would like to end on a positive note. Blue Cross says that Harry the cat was reunited with his family, after being missing for 10 years, because he had a microchip. That shows that it really does pay to get one.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered e-petition 229004 relating to the identification of pets.

Sitting adjourned.