The RSPCA is hailing what it calls “a milestone week” for animal welfare as three new long-fought for animal protection measures become law.
The use of glue traps, condemned by campaigners as “crude devices that cause horrific suffering”, will be banned in England – although with two loopholes.
One is that selling the traps will still be legal. Humane Society UK said that although the sale of glue traps cannot also be banned unilaterally in England without the same ban in the other three nations of the UK, it would write to retailers in England to urge them to withdraw from sale traps that will no longer be legal to use.
The other loophole is that professional pest-controllers will be able to apply for licences to use the traps, which leave rodents, birds and pets suffering stress, exhaustion, dehydration or injuries for hours or days as they struggle to get free.
Meanwhile, people who fail to properly care for their pets, zoo animals and livestock could face new fixed-penalty fines of up to £5,000.
Under the new legislation, fines could be handed out to pet breeders who fail to microchip puppies before rehoming them, horse owners tethering animals in a way that neglects their basic needs or farmers transporting livestock that are not fit to travel.
The fixed-penalty notices are intended to “bridge the gap” between offering advice and prosecution, and the idea is they should reduce pressure on the courts.
The police will be able to issue the fines, but not the RSPCA.
At the same time, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which also gained Royal Assent, will oblige ministers to take into account the fact that animals experience feelings and emotions when they are making policy decisions.
The government sparked controversy when it failed to carry over sentience from EU legislation into UK law after Brexit.
A new Animal Sentience Committee made up of experts will be created to hold government to account on how well its decisions have taken account of the welfare of animals, publishing reports that ministers need to respond to in Parliament.
Emma Slawinski, of the RSPCA, said: “It’s a good week for animal welfare; the RSPCA has been campaigning on glue traps, animal sentience and fixed penalty notices for a long time.
“We are now pressing the government to introduce bans on the import of foie gras and fur, and for it to implement the Kept Animals Bill so that live exports of animals for slaughter, keeping primates as pets and the cruel puppy import trade can also be banned once and for all.”
The Kept Animals Bill is due to continue its passage into law via a carryover motion in the next parliamentary session.
However, the government appears to have dropped the Animals Abroad Bill, which would have banned the import of foie gras and fur, and banned adverts for cruel animal attractions abroad.