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The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is tasked to protect the environment, economy and society from the risks of animal diseases. Defra has a framework for how to deal with an outbreak of rabies in England and Wales and a government strategy for their contingency plan for exotic animal diseases.


The Rabies Control Strategy is a framework for all parties affected to be able to respond quicker and more effectively in order to control the outbreak and protect public health whilst minimising wider impacts on the environment and public. The strategy recognises that blanket control measures to a series of rabies outbreaks would be inappropriate and either too restrictive or relaxed. Realising that a case by case approach is best suited to tackling this disease, it also focuses on preventative measures and incorporates an early communication strategy to educate and pre-empt the public in taking precautions before any outbreak occurs.

The Kennel Club commends the Rabies Control Strategy in considering a number of rabies outbreak scenarios (which include the severity of the case, domestic/wildlife animal element, location and number of cases reported) and the corresponding appropriate control measures.

Exotic Diseases

Similar to the Rabies Control Strategy Defra has a contingency plan for notifiable exotic diseases of animals, which sets out to identify, contain and eliminate the outbreak of any such diseases.

The Kennel Club welcomes that the contingency plan recognises that a blanket response to different outbreaks is ineffective and could weaken the efficiency of the government's response to eradicating an outbreak. Defra's recognition that a case specific approach is best suited to tackling an outbreak is considered to be the most appropriate approach and most competent to address the issues at hand.

In both disease control plans, the Kennel Club has highlighted to Defra the importance of animal welfare issues in their consideration of policies relating to the containment and elimination of rabies or other exotic notifiable diseases in dogs or other animals. This is particularly important for pet owners as the Animal Welfare Act (2006) places the duty on them to ensure their animal's welfare which could be impacted by any restrictions on animal movement.

Overall, the Kennel Club commends Defra for outlining disease control plans that attempt to minimise the number of animals humanely culled for control purposes, as well as to safeguard both animal and human welfare whilst ensuring that the adverse effects on animal welfare, environment, public and economy are kept to a minimum.