Sunderland Labour Group has slammed the Government for failing to keep its promise to protect animal welfare and clamp down on puppy smuggling and dog thefts.

A Labour motion which sought to bring back the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was rejected by Tory MPs in the Commons yesterday (Wednesday 21 June), despite it being part of the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto.

Cllr Phil Tye, Labour councillor for Silksworth Ward, said the Tories’ rejection of Labour’s motion to revive the legislation is a ‘disgrace’ and that it will ‘cause thousands more animals to suffer as a result’.

Northumbria Police received 81 reports of dog thefts last year – up from 49 before the pandemic – and Cllr Tye believes the Government’s failure to be tough on perpetrators could open the door for more across the region.

Cllr Tye said: “With dog thefts on the rise not only across our region but nationally, it is unbelievable that the government has broken its promise to protect animals and deliver on its own manifesto commitment.

“There is no reason not to support Labour’s motion to bring back a bill that would have allowed us to clamp down on puppy smuggling and dog theft, as well as banning live exports of farm animals.

“The vote proves that animal welfare is a low priority for the Tory Government, and while they dither, cruel live exports and animal suffering continues.”

If passed, the motion could have been put through its final legislative steps in the House of Commons as early as 12 July.

However, the move was rejected by 256 votes to 183, a majority of 73, which animal charities and animal welfare campaigners alike have been quick to condemn.

Dogs Trust veterinary director, Paula Boyden, said: “I can’t convey how sad we are that, despite clear backing from the public, 65,000 of whom have emailed the Prime Minister pleading with him to pass this Bill to protect animals, it’s been blocked yet again from passing through Parliament.

“While Westminster continues to play political games, dogs are suffering horrific journeys to Great Britain, often without food and with little water, to be sold to unsuspecting buyers.”

David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said: “It’s terrible news for animals and we are calling on the UK government to rethink and bring back all the proposals contained within the binned bill back by other means.

“We cannot go on allowing cruel practices such as the live exports of animals for slaughter and the puppy import trade.”