Thugs who run over cats and leave them to die could get fined and be forced to get moggs back to heart-broken owners
THUGS who run over cats and leave them to die could be slapped with fines and forced to help beloved owners get their pets back, to close a loophole in the law.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling are "seriously considering" proposals which would make it illegal for anyone who knowingly hits a cat to leave the scene – which currently applies to dogs and other larger animals.
The private members' bill from MP Rehman Chishti is set to come back to the Commons within weeks, and Mr Gove has described his ideas as “very reasonable” and an "inspiration" – instructing his team to look into how to support the ideas.
The Environment boss said last week: "As a cat owner myself I know how important pets are are in the lives of all our families.
"Rehman's bill gives us a chance to address the inequality."
It would force owners to microchip their cats and for councils to get them scanned – so that heart-broken owners get notified if anything happens to their precious pusses.
And it would demand that drivers stop at the scene of any accident involving cats too.
Similar laws in New York fine drivers $100 if they flee the scene after knowingly hitting a cat.
Labour is backing the plan too, and has vowed to put the issue in their next election manifesto.
The Cats Bill is due in Parliament later this week but is on a long list of legislation and may not get time for debate just yet.
Campaigners are confident that the Government can get behind the bill or make tweaks to existing legislation.
A Government source told The Sun: "The UK is a world leader in animal welfare protections but we want to go further still.
"Cats are cherished pets and companions and we will work closely with Rehman to ensure his important proposals can help shape future legislation."
And a Department for Transport source added: "We're really supportive of what Rehman is trying to achieve. Animals are involved in too many accidents on Britain's roads."
MP Mr Chishti said: "Are cats less important than dogs? Of course not. Millions of cat lovers across Britain deserve the same rights as dog lovers.
"They are a part of our families too – this is the right thing to do."
Are cats less important than dogs? Of course not
Campaigners Mandy Hobbis and Tiya Ivy, who lost their cats to accidents, say devastated owners need to know what’s happened to their lost animals.
Mandy told The Sun: “We take some comfort in believing it happened to our boys Snowy and Henry for a reason.
“Had they not died so horrifically and binned like rubbish, this wouldn’t have happened.
“We never want other cats and owners to go through what we had to.”
Snowy’s owners only found out he had died because neighbours had said they saw him injured but the council took him away and didn't chip him to return him to them.
Henry was hit just outside his own house, but the owner did not stop.
Some councils – include Mandy’s – now scan cats for microchips to try and return them back to their owners if anything happens to them, but it’s not mandatory across the country.
The Highway Code already advises that accidents involving animals should be reported.
My cats ? ? Welfare Bill deferred to 22nd March as was unlikely to be called today due to many other bills listed before it. In meantime Minister @michaelgove has said Gov will work with me to look at taking forward my Bill as Gov policy. Thank you all for your support. ? pic.twitter.com/r36nox92pp
Britain's 11million cats which bring such joy to families must be protected
By Rehman Chishti MP
THERE are 11.1 million cats in the UK, and they are often regarded as a member of the family, bringing immense happiness and joy to their owners.
This is why their welfare should be a priority at every level.
It is because of this inequality in the law between cats and dogs that I decided to introduce my Cats Bill in Parliament to push for a change in the law, calling for the compulsory microchipping of cats, as well as the requirement to report a road traffic accident resulting in the injury or death of a cat to the relevant authorities.
Back in June last year as part of National Volunteer Week, I had the pleasure of visiting a fantastic local charity in my constituency, Animals Lost and Found in Kent.
This charity, run by two inspirational individuals Natasha and Dee, does its best to ensure that animals which have been lost, abandoned or injured get the support they need.
It also aims to ensure that lost animals are returned to their owners where possible, and they raised the point with me that when it comes to cats they have a particularly big challenge reuniting many of them with their owners.
This is because cats, unlike dogs, do not have to be microchipped by law.
The same is the case when it comes to road traffic accidents: it is currently law to report an accident involving a dog to the relevant authorities, but not a cat.
I am delighted to have received the support of numerous animal welfare organisations and charities including Animals Lost and Found, Cats Protection, the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the Blue Cross Animal Hospital, Cats Matter and the PDSA, as well as support from fellow parliamentarians from across the House, and the Secretary of State for the Environment.
From an animal welfare perspective it is only right that this imbalance is addressed and for cat owners to know that their cat has that same level of protection as a dog when it comes to the wellbeing of their beloved pet.
More than 200,000 cats are hit every year in the UK – and a quarter of those are fatal.
The London Assembly are also mulling the moves in the capital after FOI requests revealed that out of more than 4,000 cats collected by councils just 75 were scanned and returned to their owners.
In Wales too it’s now mandatory to check for chips for lost or deceased cats.
And Scotland now is working to put scanning procedures in place in all their councils.
A DfT spokesperson said: "The UK has some of the safest roads in the world and we are currently looking at ways of making them safer given the significant numbers of accidents every year involving animals.
"We know that people’s pets become part of the family and it’s a huge source of worry when they go missing. That’s why in 2015 we wrote to all local highway authorities to recommend that they look to identify the owners of all cats or dogs killed on the roads.
"In addition, the police do advise drivers that, if possible, they should make enquiries to ascertain the owner of domestic animals, such as cats, and advise them of the situation."
What do to if you find or hit a cat
- STOP: Just 25 per cent of road traffic accidents involving cats are fatal so the chances are good the cat can survive with urent care instead of being left to die
- HELP: Vets will not charge you for bringing an injured or deceased animal to them. Keep calm and assess the situation. Avoid sudden movements and use slow body lanuage. Lift the cat with one hand under the chin at the front of the chest and the other supporting hind quarters. It could be better to use a towel or blanket, or even a crate if you have one.
- REPORT: Check the collar for details of the cat. Take the cat to the vets for microchipping or scanning. There are 24-hour vets operating around the country. Don't call the police.
Advice from Cats Matter
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