Britain has voted to leave the European Union.
This post will not tackle the politics of that choice nor the claims and counter claims that lead to it. It will focus on what the future holds for animal welfare over the coming years based on the current landscape and the views of independent professionals.
Today a survey by Bloomberg has stated that 71% of economists they spoke to have predicted that the United Kingdom is to enter a period of recession. How deep and how long that downturn lasts depends on who you speak to, but the overwhelming view is that Britain will face a coming recession. What we know for a fact is that the decision Britain made last week has wiped a record $3 TRILLION from financial markets.
Due to the very recent nature of Britain’s last recession, all too sadly, there is readily available data on how that economic downturn affected Britain’s animal welfare system. The 2008 banking triggered recession lead to figures suggesting up to 20 dogs per day lost their lives as a direct result of that particular economic downturn and as many as 345 dogs each day were abandoned.
Analysis shows that the 2008 banking collapse lead to
- An increase in the number of dogs being surrendered to animal rescue shelters
- A decrease in the amount of money being donated to animal welfare charities
- An increase in the number of dogs being bred by ‘backyard breeders’ seeking quick cash
- Puppy farming increased during the previous recession
- Housing problems leading to pets being displaced
- A decrease in public spending on council services including dog wardens
- A decrease in the number of people adopting dogs from shelters due to lower incomes
- Workers having to put in longer hours due to the downturn
- Record numbers of dogs being dumped in the streets
Sadly, the last recession saw record numbers of animal welfare problems according to the Dogs Trust and other charities.
Economists have been and remain overwhelmingly in agreement, as have politicians, that Britain is about to see a significant increase in the cost of living. That includes fuel, clothing and food.
BMG research has predicted that the cost of food and weekly shopping, in particular, will rise ‘significantly’.
The primary ingredients in commercially available pet foods are meat, fish and vegetables. The early predictions are that while British farm produce will be cheaper to buy overseas, it will be more expensive in Britain itself.
Job losses are predicted.
We must be braced for what happens now.
Arguing about the politics of it all is now redundant. The overwhelming predictions of qualified experts, economists, employers and politicians is that we need to brace for stormy weather. If the 2008 financial crisis has taught us anything it’s that we should be better prepared for what happened to dogs in those difficult years. We need to ensure information is widely distributed about issues such as
- Reducing the cost of dog ownership
- The very real benefit of pet insurance (times may be tough, but nobody should have to give up a much loved dog if they happen to get ill or injured)
- Vigilance on puppy farming. Puppy farming isn’t illegal but in the previous recession is was one of very few industries to experience a growth spurt. We must continue to inform people about the folly of buying puppy farmed dogs as they are more likely to suffer illness and potentially end up in the already overstretched animal welfare system.
- Despite the political turmoil to come, we must ensure Govt of the day do not simply use it as an excuse to disregard import legislation on issues such as puppy farming, breed specific legislation and animal welfare issues in general
- Volunteering to help animal welfare organisations. No matter what the economic climate, our animal welfare organisations can always benefit from a helping hand. As the last recession showed us all too clearly, when the economy is in a downturn it’s not just businesses who suffer a drop in funds. We might not have the spare cash to donate but we can offer our time
- Continue to promote dogs in shelters who need new homes
Post British exit from the EU, we must ensure UK animal welfare legislation becomes the leading voice in Europe.
The Pet Industry Federation says:
“While the decision to leave the EU will have a significant impact on the farming and veterinary communities, the welfare of pets is one of the least regulated areas of EU law, with laws covering pet welfare largely devolved to the member states. Legislation on animal cruelty is provided for by laws such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006. While the UK is likely to still be bound by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on imports and exports, there could be opportunities to prevent the import of animals (such as trade in puppies from the EU) if they represented a disease or welfare risk, along with implementing other laws on animal welfare which might be better than current EU standards.
There is still much to be negotiated, politically. It would be wise of us to be ready to take heed of the independent voices (not politicians) who have predicted what the UK is about to face. We need to make sure we don’t forget the animals.