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Comments on the paper: ‘Animal welfare consequences in England and Wales of the 2001 epidemic of foot and mouth disease’

Author(s) : J.M. Scudamore, D.G. Pritchard & G.M. Whitmore

Summary :

The authors consider that the opinions expressed in the paper on the animal welfare consequences in England and Wales during the 2001 epidemic of foot and mouth disease (FMD) by C.J. Laurence exaggerate the true position and frequently appear to be based on anecdotal evidence presented to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) rather than fact. The paper fails to recognise the enormous scale of the epidemic and the speed and effectiveness of the response by Government to control the disease. Using epidemiological analysis both during and after the epidemic, the European Union policy of stamping-out was found to result in fewer animals killed than if vaccination had been used. A veterinary inspector supervised each site where killing occurred for disease control or as part of the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme (LWDS). Details of the number of welfare movement licences are given as well as the turnaround time from application to consignment. Transported animals under the LWDS and welfare movement licences were subject to veterinary inspection prior to movement. Over a quarter of a million welfare licences were issued, each of which was subject to veterinary inspection. Analysis found that no such movements resulted in the spread of FMD. Arrangements for casualty slaughter under the ‘over-thirty-months scheme’ were maintained throughout the epidemic.

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