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ANIMAL WELFARE POLICY

The Democratic Party's overriding principle is that it will represent and, in power, implement the will of the majority of the British people at all times and in all areas of life. The Democratic Party has investigated the various fields of animal welfare in an attempt to establish which reforms would be endorsed by the majority of British citizens, and therefore which would be implemented if the Democratic Party were given the opportunity.

Wildlife

The hunting of wild animals with dogs and the use of snares would be banned. The Democratic Party would implement policies to encourage humane, non-lethal methods of 'pest control'. (The DP is preparing a visionary and comprehensive policy dealing with all aspects of farming and the countryside.)

Experiments on Animals

In principle, we are against the use of animals for experimentation. However, the wish of the British People is not to ban ALL experiments on animals at present, but we believe the great majority of experiments could cease immediately without impairing the democratic principle; the following should therefore be viewed in this context.

The use of animals to test cosmetics, and the cloning, creation and patenting of animals for experimentation would be outlawed. There would be Government-funded encouragement for non-animal testing and research, a predisposition against granting licences for animal experiments and full disclosure to the public of both licences granted and the results of all such experiments.

The Democratic Party would also establish an enquiry for the sole purpose of establishing and announcing how quickly all animal experimentation would be phased out, without endangering human health and safety.

Slaughter

Live export of farm animals would be banned and replaced with an 'on the hook' trade. This would require new modern local slaughterhouses, and thus enhance rural employment. The Democratic Party in power would encourage the slaughter of animals as near as possible to where they are reared, and an enquiry would be established to find the most up-to-date and humane practices possible, resulting in outdated and unnecessarily stressful practices being outlawed. (The DP is preparing a visionary and comprehensive policy dealing with all aspects of farming and the countryside.)

Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis

The culling of 20,000 badgers over the last 23 years in an effort to eradicate TB in cattle has failed to solve the problem of a small, but persistent level of TB in cattle (only four out of every 1,000 herds were affected in 1996), and there is still only circumstantial evidence to implicate badgers. To continue with such an obviously pointless strategy is a waste of taxpayers' money, as well as causing unnecessary suffering and stress in badger populations - stress which, in fact, may well be a factor in the presence of bovine TB in badgers in the culling areas of the West and South West of England and Wales.

The Democratic Party would stop the cull immediately, divert the millions of pounds being spent on killing badgers into an urgent quest for a cattle vaccine and into research using molecular and DNA science to establish once and for all if, and how, badgers transmit the disease to cattle in the countryside. Meanwhile, the small numbers of farmers whose herds suffer a breakdown from the disease would receive 100% compensation, which would be withdrawn from any farmer convicted of taking illegal action against badgers.

Pets

A national dog registration scheme would be introduced and measures would be enacted to outlaw 'puppy farming', encourage neutering and responsible pet keeping, prevent impulse buying of animals from pet shops and prohibit the importation of exotic pets from the wild.

Circuses and Zoos

Performing wild animal acts would be prohibited in circuses, and legislation would be introduced to insist on the highest standards of education, welfare and ethics in all zoos.

Fur

The farming of fur-bearing animals and the importation of fur derived from animals trapped, or reared, in conditions illegal in the U.K. would be prohibited.

Animal Welfare Law Enforcement

The Democratic Party would amend animal welfare legislation to ensure that regardless of any other penalties, courts would automatically:-

a) confiscate any animal owned, or kept, by someone convicted of cruelty to that animal, or of using that animal to inflict unnecessary suffering upon another animal (for instance in badger digging or dog fighting), and

b) disqualify any such convicted person from owning, keeping or possessing any animal for a minimum period of five years, subject to an appeal to the Court if such disqualification causes severe family hardship, in which case the Court may, in its discretion, vary the disqualification order and substitute the maximum financial penalty.

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