July 19, 2017

Although most animal welfare establishments, or “sanctuaries” are invaluable resources for the improvement of animal welfare, there are times when things go wrong.

Resources can be overwhelmed or capability surpassed for both large and small organisations, in these cases a framework is necessary to protect vulnerable animals and their carers who may find themselves out of their depth.

The regulation of animal welfare establishments is already in force in some European countries, and there are parallels with the regulation of other animal welfare establishments such as riding schools, dog breeders and kennels/catteries.

Similar measures could be introduced for sanctuaries in Wales with regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The Welsh Government data collected under the Companion Animal Welfare Enhancement Scheme (CAWES) showed that there were approximately 85 “sanctuaries” that Local Authorities were able to identify in Wales.

As the Chair and secretariat to the Animal Welfare Network Wales (AWNW), the RSPCA played a key part in the AWNW’s working group on animal welfare establishments (sanctuaries), which took written and verbal evidence from animal welfare organisations and local authorities, presenting its report to the Minister in October 2012. Our 2014 public campaign urged the Welsh Government to consider the matter and introduce basic standards for such establishments.  Read the Members Research Service blog on the topic here.

In the meantime welfare cases within sanctuaries continue and whilst the RSPCA will endeavour to investigate any such cases, they will often involve large numbers of animals, which places an even greater strain in these already difficult times on both our, and our partners’, resources.