Whilst CatsMatter’s work with the UK, and Scottish Governments, intensely heat up… work with the Welsh Government is beginning to cool down – but only because the work there is nearly done.
Last year, CatsMatter produced a petition to the Welsh Assembly asking that deceased pets, found by local authorities, were scanned for a microchip & the owners notified.
Before beginning the campaign work in Wales, 8 councils across the country did not scan pets for microchips. Following pressure from CatsMatter, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Powys agreed to adopt a scanning approach. Powys required scanners donating to them, which was a successful roll out last year. This left Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Anglesey, Newport and Gwynedd to adopt the approach.
Each of these areas were challenging to convince and at the time, had no intentioned of considering a scanning approach, but that did not stop CatsMatter from going above the council heads and instead, pressing for a law change that would make deceased pet scanning a mandatory requirement for all councils in Wales. Though the petition for Wales had significantly lower signatures that the usual petition run through the CatsMatter campaign owing to the fct that the focus was on getting signatures from residents of Wales, the set targets were far exceeded and it was accepted for debate at Welsh Assembly.
Fast forward a few months, and the second round of debates took place. The outcome was that, due to the fact it was only 5 councils still unwilling to adopt a scanning approach, instead of a law change, the government officials would personally write to each of the remaining councils and encourage them to reconsider their stance.
In the meantime, CatsMatter continued to liaise with councillors and MPs in those areas, and lined up keen AMs ready to step in should the above strategy not yield any results. As a result of the joint efforts between CatsMatter and supportive AMs, the petition is now back on the agenda to be discussed for a 3rd round.
As for the remaining 5 councils – Newport, Cardiff, Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent and Gwynedd – only Gwnedd if left without having made any attempts to adopt a scanning procedure as a result of the recent efforts by CatsMatter.
Here are the details of the new scanning procedures of each recently converted council in Wales:
Newport – Newport were the first council to respond. They have now adopted a scanning approach, and have confirmed they will scan all pets found, and notify the owners where possible.
Blaenau Gwent – This is not yet solidified; however, the council have confirmed that senior officers are currently investigating adopting a policy whereby all pets are scanned. They have also confirmed they are working with neighbouring councils on this presently. This is of course fantastic news, and CatsMatter will be keeping a close eye on those proceedings, as will a very keen MP in this area who is eager to get them scanning.
Cardiff – Cardiff has been known to be one of the more challenging councils to recruit as far as scanning goes. Rejecting all previous petitions made by locals, regardless of the immense support for such a policy by residents. At one point, it looked like Cardiff were never going to so much as look in to the issue, as many from around that way would agree.
However, Cardiff have sent the most intriguing response to date, even offering ways the Government could implement a best practice for local authorities to consider. The council have now confirmed that they are considering expansions to the process they currently have for dogs to include cats. At present, dogs found are sent to a local dog’s home who in turn scans them. Now, this is fairly common around the UK – some councils do not have scanners on site, but use external sources as a means to locate the owners, and return the cats/dogs.
Cardiff have stated they would like a similar service for cats as they have for dogs, but there are currently having issues locating a vet’s – which is no fault of Cardiff’s of course. We are not sure at this stage what the issue is exactly, but we do know that when councils go down this particular route, the cremation bill of those without a microchip tends to fall on the council’s shoulders. Some councils have deals in place to keep costs to a minimal. It is suspected that this is where the holdup lies, but CatsMatter are keen to make further contact with them to find out what’s happening, and to help out where possible.
In the meantime, the council have set up a new system of recording cats found – such as location, and description. Owners of missing cats locally can now find out if a cat matching their cat’s description has been collected. This is huge progress from Cardiff. There is a lot to work through given their response, but CatsMatter are working with them, to make this a feasible and permanent solution for Cardiff.
Anglesey – Following a local news story in 2016 highlighting the issues
CatsMatter was having with getting Anglesey to adopt a scanning approach, a very upset local resident contacted the CatsMatter team begging for support in getting the council to listed. All of her previous attempts to initiate change were ignored at best. Having heard her story and sympathising greatly, CatsMatter agreed to do everything possible to inspire the council to reconsider.
After months of debating with the council there was a small breakthrough.
Although they stated they would adopt a scanning approach - this would not come in to force until their next waste contract – starting 2021! When a council is in a waste contract, to add the addition of scanning cats in to the current contract costs the council money basically to amend the contract – and Anglesey were not willing to cover this cost.
CatsMatter involved a local MP who used to be a vet – who was very much behind an owners right to have closure and an animals right to be treated with dignity in death. She fought alongside CatsMatter throughout 2017, and the results are now in… they have confirmed to the Government they have made arrangements with their current waste contractor – and have now implemented a scanning approach!
CatsMatter will continue to work with these councils and ensure that the scanning procedures implemented are here to stay.
So, that just leaves Gwynedd. Will Gwynedd be the only council in Wales to not scan cats found by the roadside? Watch this space…