Politically Speaking: By Andrea Jenkyns MP
As residents may know, I am a lifelong advocate for animal welfare and have been a vegetarian for over 20 years.
I have always been an animal lover and a proud dog owner - I recently rescued a dog, Suzi, from the Whitehall Dog Rescue centre in East Ardsley and she has become a valued member of my family. I encourage everyone who is able, to rescue a dog.
I have always believed that those who abuse animals should face tough sentences and that any government should continually take measures to improve animal welfare throughout the UK and across the world. That is why I welcome many of the fantastic policies put forward in the Queen’s Speech, including a commitment to the highest standards of animal welfare by delivering important animal rights and conservation improvements.
I have recently been working to promote a number of animal welfare issues which are close to my heart, and I am pleased that so many residents share my concerns and have expressed their thoughts to me.
Last week, I visited the RSPCA Leeds and Wakefield branch, and met the fantastic team there. We discussed the impact of lockdown on pet ownership, and they should be proud of all the good work they do to help vulnerable animals.
Recently, I held a roundtable discussion on animal welfare with relevant charities and key stakeholders including the Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Leeds Cat Rescue, Wildlife and Countryside Link and others. The threat of puppy smuggling, pet theft and crimes against animals were all towards the top of the agenda. There is an animal welfare emergency and we must act now to drive change.
Following on from this discussion, and with the support of animal welfare charities, I have launched Andrea’s Animal Welfare Podcast, a series of focused discussions with charities and experts where we discuss a major animal welfare issue in order to raise awareness and seek to improve the lives of animals.
In my first podcast I met with the Wildlife and Countryside Link to discuss the worrying increase in violence against birds of prey, which has sadly been an increasing issue during lockdown and has a significant impact on British bird stocks.
In the second episode, I met with a representative from the Dogs Trust charity, to talk about the deplorable and widespread practice of puppy smuggling. I would strongly encourage anyone considering buying a puppy to watch the full podcast on my website for advice and best practices on how to avoid funding this awful criminal enterprise.
I have a number of further animal welfare podcasts planned, so stay tuned to my social media channels for future episodes. Next up is the ‘Four Paws’ charity to discuss ending the commercial wildlife trade and the cat and dog meat trade.
I am pleased that the government have put so much energy into improving the lives and welfare of animals in our country, and now that we have left the EU we can truly lead the world in animal standards.
I hope that by raising awareness of these issues in this way I can use my platform as an MP to help this important cause. I hope that all animal lovers stand up to do all they can to improve animal welfare, both here in the UK and beyond our shores.