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Expert Witness : Animal & Farming

Penalties to increase for dog attacks

Picture of a large dog for Your Expert Witness storyThe Government is proposing to increase the maximum penalties for dog owners whose animals are dangerously out of control, according to an announcement made by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The decision follows a consultation during the summer.

Current penalties stand at two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for aggravated. The changes, announced on 29 October, will see the penalties increased to:

• Fourteen years imprisonment if a person dies as a result of a dog attack

• Five years imprisonment if a person is injured by a dog attack

• Three years’ imprisonment if an assistance dog either dies or is injured by a dog attack

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 10:51

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Microchipping helps reunite dogs with owners

Picture of a stray dog for Your Expert Witness storyMicrochips have saved the lives of over 8,000 lost dogs over the past year – 1,000 more than the previous year – according to the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. The devices, implanted under the skin, allow the dogs to be reunited with their owners. The finding was revealed in the annual Stray Dog Survey carried out for Dogs Trust.

The report found that 111,986 stray and abandoned dogs were picked up by local authorities across the UK in the 12 months to September. While that represents a 6% decrease on the previous year the figure still equates to a staggering 307 stray dogs found each day. Despite considerable headway being made by local authorities and animal welfare organisations to promote responsible dog ownership through microchipping, education and neutering, the survey also recorded 9,000 dogs being destroyed, 8% of the total. Those reunited with their owners accounted for 48% of the stray population, with the remaining dogs transferred to welfare organisations for rehoming (25%) or rehomed through local authorities (9%).

The Government has announced plans for the compulsory microchipping of all dogs by April 2013 in a bid to promote more responsible dog ownership. Owners who fail to comply will face a £500 fine.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 11:04

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Zoo society goes on the attack over badger cull

Photo of badger for Your Expert Witness storyA renewed attack on the government’s policy of culling badgers to combat bovine TB has been launched by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which operates both London Zoo in Regent’s Park and Whipsnade Zoo.

In a statement issued on 23 August, ZSL said: “ZSL recognises the serious impact of bovine tuberculosis (TB) on the livelihoods of UK cattle farmers. Such an important issue deserves the highest standard of evidence­-based management.

“ZSL is concerned that the available scientific evidence does not support the UK government’s decision to allow badger culling by licensed farmers in England.”

According to the society, TB transmission is complex and the planned approach to its control risks increasing TB in cattle rather than reducing it. The statement goes on to detail evidence that suggests culling can reduce instances of the disease within the area of the cull, but can trigger increases outside the area. Moreover, where the culls are not stringently policed, the risks are increased.

The statement continued: “Unfortunately, the planned pilot culls are not designed to measure the effects of licensed culling on cattle TB, nor to assess its costs. ZSL therefore concludes that badger culling risks becoming a costly distraction from the important business of controlling cattle TB nationwide.

“As a conservation charity, ZSL is engaged in worldwide efforts to foster coexistence of people and wildlife. It calls upon the UK government to show international leadership in wildlife conservation, by seeking sustainable ways for badgers and cattle to coexist.

“ZSL is keen to help Defra to identify such sustainable solutions: our Defra-funded research seeks to minimise contact between badgers and cattle and we are also working to make badger vaccination cost-effective. ZSL recognises the UK government’s wider investment in research on vaccination, biosecurity and cattle-based controls, and believes that implementing a combination of these approaches has the greatest promise for long-term TB control.”

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 August 2013 13:50

Second elephant death baffles experts

Picture of young Asian elephant for Your Expert Witness storyVeterinary experts are trying to determine the cause of death of a second young elephant in the space of a month at Chester Zoo. The young male, Nayan Hi Way, died on 29 July following a short illness.

A statement from the zoo said: “Three-year-old Nayan was taken ill a few days ago and had been receiving veterinary treatment. Although he did appear to be making a recovery unfortunately his health deteriorated this morning and he died a short time ago.”

On 3 July Nayan’s companion and relative, two-year-old female elephant Jamilah, died from the incurable elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV), which his affects both wild and captive elephants aged between one and four years of age.

The zoo continued: “The reason for Nayan’s death will be the subject of a post-mortem and it is too early to speculate as to the cause. Testing for EEHV will be carried out as part of the post-mortem.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 16:53

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Homeless koalas re-homed by forestry workers

Koala pic for Your Expert Witness storyThe New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) posted the picture of a forlorn-looking koala sitting on the site of what used to be its home after loggers cut down the tree it lived in.

Leanne Taylor, General Manager of WIRES NSW, said: “Koalas would have been moved out of their homes in preparation for planned logging activities in the nearby State Forest. It is common for koalas to roam back to their home range afterwards and become confused to find nothing there.”

According to a release from WIRES, workers from a pine plantation helped its volunteers to relocate the koalas.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 June 2013 16:13

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