Animal welfare groups have condemned the association between a leading pet insurance provider and a pro-shooting organisation. 

The award winning Agria Pet Insurance announced a partnership with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) by advertising on the front page of their website discounted offers for those who quote “BASC” when starting a policy.

Now animal charity leaders have slammed the partnership and urged Agria to break their ties with the group.

Fiona Pereira, campaign manager at Animal Aid, said: “It would probably shock animal-loving members of Agria to discover that their insurers are teamed up with the pro-shooting lobby group the BASC.

“One of the BASC’s key objectives is to ‘promote and safeguard all sporting shooting’ – which includes the shooting of purpose-bred birds for nothing more than ‘sport’.”

The animal welfare worker said “so-called ‘sport’ shooting” not only entails the production of around 50 million pheasants and partridges as targets, but also the mass killing of native wildlife, such as foxes, perceived as a threat to the (short-term) survival of the birds.

Pereira added: “Animal Aid would encourage Agria to break its ties with this pro-bloodsports group and would urge Agria customers to politely lobby for the same goal”.

Simon Wild of the National Anti-Snaring Campaign (NASC), an organisation that campaigns against the sale and manufacture of animal snares in the UK, said: “It is a shame that Agria Pet Insurance have linked up with the BASC as they promote unfettered snaring and trapping which takes a terrible toll on cats and dogs.

“Sometimes a cat or dog will turn up with a trap or snare attached, or they can be found dead when the owner goes looking.”

Cat caught in hunter’s trap
Dog caught in hunter’s trap

Agria, who are in the running for the Pet Service Business of the Year award, and recently won the Dog Friendly Employer award, were also associated with Rabbit Awareness week this summer joining with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), and the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) to focus on the care and welfare of rabbits were asked to comment on the team up with the BASC.

Ed Williamson, content marketing and PR executive for Agria, said: “We passionately believe people who own pets have a responsibility to look after their pet’s health and welfare needs and we provide the best insurance products to help them do this.”

Press spokesman for BASC, Garry Doolan, added: “The use of snares is a vital tool for fox and rabbit control in Scotland, which ensures that damage to crops, livestock, trees and other wildlife and their habitats can be reduced to acceptable levels to maintain the country’s unique rural biodiversity.

“We support the lawful use of snares by people who follow the government-endorsed codes of conduct for their use. They are a crucial, legitimate tool for pest control.

“Shooting is crucial to Scotland’s success as an iconic tourism destination, is worth around £200 million a year to the country’s economy and supports the equivalent of 8,800 full-time jobs.

Cat caught in hunter’s trap

“Gundogs have been bred for the purpose and are crucial to the success and ethical integrity of many forms of shooting.

“The training and welfare of those dogs is a matter of intense pride for those who work their dogs. Making sure those dogs are adequately insured to meet the added risks of working in the field is a sensible and recommended precaution.

He added: “The BASC roundly condemns crimes against wildlife or other animals”.

The UK is one of only five EU countries that still allow the use of animal snares. The others include France, Spain, Belgium and Ireland. 

In a poll in 2014 held online by the Mirror, it was found 77 percent of the British public want snares banned.