BVA president calls for progress on Kept Animals Bill
The Kept Animals Bill could help protect against imported canine diseases such as Brucella canis.
President uses speech at London Dinner to urge progress on legislation.

In his speech at the BVA’s annual London Dinner on 8 March, BVA president Malcolm Morley used the opportunity to press home the importance of the Kept Animals Bill as well as other ongoing issues which the BVA believes the Government must address.

With Lord Benyon, minister for biosecurity, marine and rural affairs, in the audience alongside MPs, peers and veterinary professionals, Dr Morley focused on three key points: the importance of passing the long-promised Kept Animals Bill; the need to introduce legislation to make ‘veterinary nurse’ a protected title; and the importance of a One Health approach.

Speaking about the necessity of the Kept Animals Bill, Dr Morley highlighted how it could help in the fight against Brucella canis.

Since 2020, there has been a spike in cases of B. Canis, a disease which is not endemic in the UK but is increasingly being seen in imported dogs. There is particular concern about the zoonotic potential of the disease.

Dr. Morley said: “Measures within the [Kept Animals Bill] to prohibit the import of puppies and pregnant bitches would contribute to reducing that risk, particularly alongside much-needed pre-import testing for Brucella canis. Now is the time for us to shut the door on this disease and the Kept Animals Bill will contribute to that.”

The BVA president also spoke about the importance of introducing legal protection for the title of ‘veterinary nurse’ as part of reforms to replace the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

Dr Morley said: “There is also a particularly pressing need to protect the title of ‘veterinary nurse’. Currently any of you in this room could describe yourselves as a veterinary nurse, which is extraordinary, and misleading given the expertise and training of these registered veterinary nurses, and we should all support efforts to secure protection of the title.
“The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have led on this issue and together we are clear about the need for reform of the 1966 Act… there are serious implications if this legislation is not reformed, for our professions and the animals we care for. I urge all political parties to include this in their manifestos for the next general election.”

He ended his speech by urging the Government to make a One Health approach a key part of policy development, saying: “Money invested in animal health and national biosecurity goes so much further by also supporting human health, the environment and the sustainability and productivity of our food sector. Investment in the people and infrastructure of public sector veterinary services is vital for the UK.”