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Posted: 2017-11-28

Profession unites to lobby government on Article 13
The open letter calls for the principle of Article 13 to be enshrined in UK legislation after Brexit.

Open letter calls for implementation of framework to protect animals post-Brexit 

More than 1,000 veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and students have signed an open letter calling for the principle of Article 13 to be enshrined in UK legislation after Brexit.

Published today (28 November) in the Daily Telegraph, the letter was led by the BVA and the BVNA in response to a vote by MPs on Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 13 sets out that there is a duty on the state to have due regard for animal welfare in the development and implementation of policy.

The 1,194 signatories of the letter come from all areas of the veterinary profession - from small and large animal practice, research, government and academia. They also include UK deputy chief veterinary officers, officers of BVA specialist divisions and the chief veterinary officer of the SSPCA.

BVA senior vice president Gudrun Ravetz said: “The public and professional response to the Article 13 vote was astonishing, but there was much misunderstanding borne from sensationalist headlines that suggested the MPs who voted the amendment down do not believe in animal sentience. The real crux of the debate got lost in this noise.
“BVA supports the principle of Article 13, since it not only recognises that animals are sentient but importantly puts a duty on the state to have due regard for animal welfare in the development and implementation of policy."
She continued: “We exist to represent the views of our members, enabling one strong evidence-based voice that will be heard at national level, in government and the media – and that’s exactly what this letter does, reaching more than 1.2 million people.”

Earlier this month, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas submitted an amendment to include the principles set out in Article 13, which also states animals are sentient, in the EU Withdrawal Bill. But the majority of MPs rejected the clause.

The Commons vote sparked widespread media attention and protests on social media, forcing environment secretary Michael Gove to clarify the government’s position on animal sentience. He stated that his department intends to ensure legislative changes to recognise animal sentience. However, he did not suggest when or how this would happen.

The BVA collaborated with BVNA on the open letter as part of their new strategic alliance - a relationship which allows both professions to retain their identity, whilst forming a single, strong voice.

BVNA president Wendy Nevins said: “It is essential that the voice of veterinary professionals is heard in this debate and we hope that the government listens to the strength of feeling amongst veterinary nurses, vets and students. We support the government’s call for animal welfare to be strengthened post-Brexit, but we must have the legal framework in place to achieve it.”

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