Battersea Dogs and Cats: Pets in hit and runs should have equal legal treatment

By Tom Holmes
February 5 2020, 17.25

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home have called on the government to ensure cats are covered by the same traffic laws as dogs.

Currently, under the 1988 Road Traffic Act, road accidents involving dogs, along with other animals such as cows, horses or sheep, must be reported by drivers.

But there is no provision in the law for cats, something that Battersea wants to change.

Battersea’s deputy chief executive, Peter Laurie, said: “This is a curious gap in the law, but one which can be easily addressed.

“Losing a pet in any circumstances is tragic but never knowing why and what happened makes it even more difficult.

“Introducing a requirement for drivers to stop and report if they hit a cat, coupled with a compulsory requirement to scan any deceased cats found in the area for microchips, could bring much-needed closure to owners who otherwise may never know what happened to their beloved pet.”

A first draft of an aptly named Cats Bill to change this was submitted in October 2018 by Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti.

Battersea called for this to be revisited in the current parliament, as part of its November General Election manifesto.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is currently looking into related plans for compulsory micro-chipping of cats.

PAW PATROL: CatsMatter co-founders Carlie Power and Mandy Hobbis

CatsMatter, a focus group working on these issues, argued that adding cats to the Road Traffic Act would not work, given that cats roam freely.

However, they said they are working with Defra to come up with legal proposals that will ensure cats have equal rights to dogs.

CatsMatter spokesperson Carlie Power said: “We simply just want decency to be legislated, and many now agree with us that the time has come to give cats the rights other species share.

“Although the animals on the Road Traffic Act are ‘working animals’, which initially gave them the status they have, we don’t feel the value an animal is to us should determine if they can legally be left alone, in pain and scared by the roadside.

“Cats matter and their owners love them just as much as dog owners love their dogs. The day is fast approaching where the law finally reflects this.”

According to Highways England figures, an estimated 8,000 cats are killed in road collisions and left unreported each year.

A 2018 Carbuyer survey found that 59% of respondents agreed that the requirement to report to the authorities if you’ve hit an animal should be extended to cats.

Credit: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

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