Freya Image RSPCA

Campaign for a change in the law to help rehome neglected and abused animals

The RSPCA is calling for a new animal welfare law which will give animals involved in legal proceedings the chance to be rehomed much more quickly.

Currently, some neglected and abused pets which are rescued by the RSPCA as part of an investigation cannot be rehomed until the case itself has completed. The charity said that this can mean some animals can wait months and even years before finding their second chance.

As part of its Second Chances campaign, the charity is calling for a change in the law which would mean an animal’s future is no longer dependent on court proceedings.

A new animal welfare law allowing the charity to rehome an animal following a two-month appeal process would mean the RSPCA can give those pets the forever home they deserve much more quickly rather than waiting for lengthy court cases to conclude.

In 2019, the RSPCA rehomed over 100 animals a day (39,000) – 11,390 in the south east. It added that around a quarter of these animals were in its care as a result of an investigation. The charity said it spent £4.9m in costs for animals involved in prosecutions in 2019.

Shelley Phillips, senior campaigns manager at the RSPCA, said:

“Our animal care staff go to great lengths to make sure all the animals in our rescue centres get the care and attention they need and are treated as if they were their own pets but a rescue centre can never substitute the comfort and security of a permanent home with loving owners.

“We know that spending extended periods of time in kennels and temporary accommodation can impact an animal’s psychological welfare. This is particularly true for puppies which are at a critical stage of their development and we are seeing increasing numbers of puppies coming into our care as part of our investigation work.

“This is why we are urging the Governments in England and Wales to make a change in the law which would allow us to rehome a pet after two-months, similar to what has also been proposed in Scotland with the SSPCA.”

Kirsteen Campbell, chief executive of the Scottish SPCA, said:

“The introduction of the Animals & Wildlife (Scotland) Act 2020 will be transformational for animal welfare in Scotland as it allows harsher penalties for those found guilty of the worst types of animal welfare offences, and for the ability to rehome animals seized on welfare grounds after three weeks.

“Seeing the tangible benefits this will bring for animal welfare in Scotland, we fully support the positive changes being championed by the RSPCA, our animal welfare partner doing great work in England and Wales.

“It would be fantastic to see the UK Government follow the Scottish Government’s lead in freeing up vital resources for the RSPCA at a time when they are needed as much as ever.”

Studies using dogs kennelled for a variety of reasons have shown that many animals find kennel life challenging and dogs can show considerable physiological and behavioural distress. Research has also found that for dogs neither bred nor raised in kennels the transition is especially stressful.

Case study

Freya, a black German Shepherd, was kicked in the ribs and dragged along by her lead by her owner. She came into RSPCA care in February 2020 and was in the charity’s care for ten months before the case concluded and she was finally available for adoption at the RSPCA Martlesham branch in December last year.

Dr Sam Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, said:

“The RSPCA goes to great lengths to provide a stable environment for all the pets in our care and work hard to rehabilitate those dogs who struggle with kennel life but we feel that these issues could often be avoided if the animals were rehomed much more quickly.”

The RSPCA is asking animal lovers to take action and let the UK and Welsh Governments know that case animals deserve a happy ending. To support this campaign, visit Second Chances.