The public in Northern Ireland has the power to demand action on animal welfare legislation from potential political representatives seeking a seat in Stormont.
The USPCA is asking voters to directly challenge candidates at their doorsteps ahead of their picks in voting booths in the May 5 election.
This year more than ever, politicians are going door to door with dogs by their side in a bid, it seems, to demonstrate their love of animals, a surefire winner for many voters.
Read more: Dog Toby may not have died in vain
In response, the USPCA says it’s time to step up the pressure and demand direct answers and commitment from those seeking public support.
The charity is leading its Act for Animals campaign listing four key issues around animal welfare legislation to protect animals in Northern Ireland.
USPCA CEO Brendan Mullan said: ‘Outgoing Assembly voted against introducing ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs, had no time to consider draft private member’s bill that would have tightened regulations regarding the cruel puppy trade and the Minister of DAERA announced a cull of badgers – a protected species.
“Our incoming Assembly must do better, and we all now have the opportunity to use our vote to improve animal welfare in Northern Ireland. and regulating the puppy trade, to vote against the indiscriminate killing of badgers, to support a ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs and to support the introduction of a registry of banned offenders.
“Animals play a vital role in our community and our natural environment, enhancing our quality of life – but at the same time, they can be taken for granted or, even worse, abused. As a compassionate society, we must recognize our duty to protect all animals, whether they are our beloved pets or our native wildlife. The public has repeatedly demonstrated their desire to see real change in animal welfare here in Northern Ireland. »
A recent poll commissioned by the Northern Ireland Companion Animal Welfare Group, Lucidtalk, found that 83% of respondents agreed there was an urgent need to improve enforcement of current animal welfare law here.
And as potential Stormont nominees head into the election, the USPCA is asking the public to put questions about the animal welfare commitment to the test.
Brendan added: “We thank our supporters for rallying behind our campaign work and look forward to their continued support in the months to come. We all play an important role in shaping Northern Ireland’s political landscape for the next five years – we hope Northern Ireland has a future in which animals get the protection they deserve.
“While there has been greater awareness of the above issues within the Assembly over the past year, there have been significant delays to bills such as the Lucy NI, as well as votes against improvements to specific legislation – including the controversial vote against the introduction of a ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs in December 2021.
“We thank our supporters for rallying behind our campaign work and look forward to their continued support in the months to come. We all play an important role in shaping Northern Ireland’s political landscape for the next five years – we hope Northern Ireland has a future in which animals get the protection they deserve.