Warning: unpleasant photo illustrates the page.
There has been an omission in the laws of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a long time. Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 motorists have to stop and report an accident with dogs (and horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats). But there is no obligation for a motorist to tell the authorities if he/she hits a cat on the roads. They can drive on and leave the cat for dead. The owner may never find out what happened to her cat.
It is obviously unfair to cats and cat owners. It is a peculiar anomaly. The legislators must have seen cats as a different class of companion animal as dogs for some reason. The original legislation may have been centred around farm animals.
On 7th June the London Assembly1 unanimously agreed a motion requesting the London Mayor to ‘push for the mandatory scanning of all deceased cats collected from the roadside’.
The campaign ‘Cats Matter’ has lobbied the Mayor’s office it seems and done a great job in convincing the Assembly that it is the right thing to do.
A London Assembly member, Sian Berry, had personal experience of losing her cat for three days and had thought that her cat’s microchip would get him home if he was found by someone else. She was lucky as he came home but she says:
“…Luckily my cat came back soaking wet after three nights who knows where, but there are so many pet owners who never know. And that’s grim when so many of them have done the right thing and got a microchip. The problem is cats are not equal to dogs in the way the Government and local authorities treat them.”
Sian proposed the motion. Steve O’Connell seconded it.
“I am pleased to support this motion. It’s a heart-breaking experience to not know what happened to a pet. This motion will help pet owners across London find out exactly what happened to their loved ones.”
Sian Berry explaining her actions on video
The full text of the motion is as follows:
“This Assembly notes that there is currently no obligation to report all cat deaths on roads. Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 requires people to report collisions involving animals including dogs but not cats.
This Assembly recognises the distress that can be caused to London’s cat owners if they are not informed of the death of their pets.
We therefore call on the Mayor to lobby government to enact legislation that would require local authorities to ensure the mandatory scanning of all deceased cats collected from the roadside.
We also call on the Mayor of London and the Chair of the London Assembly to write to councils in London to make sure their own street cleaning teams treat all cats with respect and ensure microchips are checked when cats are found dead in the street.”
1. The London Assembly holds the Mayor and Mayoral advisers to account by publicly examining policies and programs through committee meetings, plenary sessions, site visits and investigations.