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Expert Witness : Animal & Farming

MPs criticise Government’s “inadequate” response on dangerous dogs

Picture of a dog of a banned breed for Your Expert Witness storyThe cross-party Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has accused the Government of failing to respond adequately to public concern over dog attacks and poor dog welfare. The Committee said that more must be done to ensure that dog breeders do more to stop poor breeding practices, including of pedigree dogs, and legislation must be amended urgently to protect the public from dangerous dogs.

The criticism came as the Committee launched a report of its inquiry into Dog Control and Welfare on 15 February. It followed the announcement by the Government of changes to the law to introduce, among other measures, the compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England from April 2016 – a measure already in force in Northern Ireland.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 17:59

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Video footage of animal abuse leads to FSA investigation

A frame from the footage of horses being mistreated for Your Expert Witness storyUndercover footage, aired on television and the internet and appearing to show abuse and neglect of horses at an abattoir in Cheshire has led to an investigation by the Food Standards Agency and two slaughtermen having their licences withdrawn. The video was shot by the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norwich, which has a record of campaigning against ill-treatment of farm animals.

The Food Standards Agency identified the most serious concerns in the footage as:
• Several occasions of more than one horse in the stun box at the same time
• Excessive use of a stick on a horse
• Hitting a horse with a rope

Under the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, it is against the law to slaughter horses within sight of one another.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 14:40

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Law students charged with Guinea fowl decapitation

Picture of helmeted guinea fowl for your Expert witness storyTwo American law students have been charged with decapitating a Guinea fowl at a wildlife sanctuary in Las Vegas, according to reports in the local press and in the US legal blog Above the Law. The alleged crime took place in October, although charges were only brought on 2 January.

A press release from the District Attorney's office in Clark County, Nevada, states: "District Attorney Steven Wolfson filed criminal charges today against the law students who allegedly participated in the harassment and eventual killing of an exotic bird at a Las Vegas Strip resort in October.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 17:11

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Automatic cod quota reductions scrapped

Picture of a cod for Your Expert Witness storyThe UK Government has prevented an automatic cut in quotas for North Sea cod and the number of days that fishermen are allowed to spend at sea, following the latest round of negotiations in Brussels.

On 18 December DEFRA announced: "Fishermen were facing severe reductions to the amount of time they could spend at sea catching their quota as part of the Cod Recovery Plan. Additionally, they were also facing automatic reductions in the amount of cod they could catch in the North Sea. The planned reductions would have threatened the livelihoods of UK fishermen and led to increased discards."

According to DEFRA, the UK joined other member states in agreeing to remove the 'unscientific' automatic cuts and instead use the best available evidence to set quota levels and the amount of time fishermen can spend at sea.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 14:47

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Pigeon baffles GCHQ experts

Detail of message found on pigeon for Your Expert Witness storyCode-breaking experts at GCHQ are said to be 'satisfied' that the pigeon-borne message assumed to have been sent during World War Two cannot be decoded without access to the original cryptographic material.

They were set an intriguing challenge following the discovery of a pigeon's skeleton in the chimney of a house in Bletchingley, Surrey. The message – hand-written on a small sheet of paper headed Pigeon Service – was found in a small red canister still attached to the pigeon's leg bone.

During the war, the methods used to encode messages naturally needed to be as secure as possible and various methods were used. The senders would often have specialist codebooks in which each code group of four or five letters had a meaning relevant to a specific operation, allowing much information to be sent in a short message. For added security, the code groups could then themselves be encrypted using, for example, a one-time pad.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:14

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