128GB FLASH:APA Pics Oct 17:Birds - captive:biting bars.jpgNew guidance for companion animal establishments and their inspection has been published following six years of research and development by an international team of leading scientists and vets.

Just published in the prestigious scientific journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the Guidelines for Inspection of Companion and Commercial Animal Establishments’, is believed to provide the best evidence-based and most objective information resource of its kind anywhere in the world.

For decades, concerns over animal welfare and public health issues have been reported for a variety of animal establishments including dog breeding kennels, pet shops and other facilities. Formal inspection methods have been inconsistent at best. A lack of objective, universal, guidance has played a role in a situation that has long been unacceptable.

The new report offers comprehensive coverage for both animal husbandry (including invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds) as well as inspection protocols for a variety of commercial and non-commercial establishments such as pet shops, breeding centres, boarding kennels and sanctuaries. Space for animals, responsible handover, facility layout, human health and safety, and a dedicated scoring tool, are among many issues detailed in the publication.

The guidelines, which are freely accessible to anyone, are intended to reach a global audience, whether for formal governmental, professional managerial or private use, and offer assistance to all those who are modernising their legislation or procedures.

Numerous countries have sought to produce relevant guidance in recognition of the need to update animal establishments with modern and evidence-based standards – including the UK government’s team at DEFRA, which is working hard to prepare information for English local authorities.

Says lead author and biologist Clifford Warwick: “Clear, definitive and objective guidance for animal care and facility inspection has long been needed to enable responsible authorities to oversee animal health and welfare with confidence, and hopefully many will welcome and find helpful this new report.

Says co-author and veterinary expert Mike Jessop: “Animal welfare and improved public health are the clear winners from a standardised inspection system that is applicable to all companion animal establishments. Moving to a more objective and evidenced system of inspection is long overdue.  The same principles and protocols are readily adaptable to encompass inspection of any animal holding facility.”

Says Animal Protection Agency Director Elaine Toland: “Britain has been called a ‘nation of animal lovers’, and many want the best for their pets. But there is also a nation of ‘animal traders and keepers’ out there who often aim to provide the most ‘cost effective’ and therefore lowest possible standards of space, habitat and general care that they can get away with, and that mindset needs to change.”

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