Wednesday 2 February 2022
Legal protections of cats
The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Notes that there are approximately 12.2 million cats kept as pets in the UK; further that around 230,000 cats are killed as the result of a road traffic accident every year, according to the most recent statistics available; and declares that cats should be granted the same legal protections that dogs are given if they are involved in an accident with a motorist.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take into account the concerns of the petitioners and take immediate action to ensure that motorists are required to report accidents involving cats to the police.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Nigel Mills, Official Report, 25 January 2022; Vol. 707, c. 973.]
Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton):
The Government have no plans to ensure motorists are required to report accidents involving cats to the police.
A focus for this Government is to make roads safer for all users, which will in turn reduce the risk to all animals.
Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a driver is required to stop and report an accident involving specified animals including horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs, but not cats or wild animals. This requirement arises from their status as working animals rather than as domestic pets. To introduce such a measure within the provision of section 170 would require primary legislation.
Having a law making it a requirement to report road accidents involving cats would be very difficult to enforce and we have reservations about the difference it would make to the behaviour of drivers, who are aware that they have run over a cat and do not report it.
Although there is no obligation to report all animal deaths on roads, Rule 286 of The Highway Code advises drivers to report any accident involving an animal to the police, and if possible, they should make enquiries to ascertain the owner of domestic animals and advise them of the situation.
The Government recognise how distressing it can be for someone to lose a pet, especially without knowing what has happened. We committed in our manifesto, and reaffirmed in our action plan for animal welfare, to introducing compulsory cat microchipping and plan to introduce the necessary legislation this year. We understand that the vast majority of local authorities now have arrangements in place to scan dead cats and dogs found by the roadside and we will continue working with them and other stakeholders to develop and promote best practice in this area.