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Role models

Influencers and influences are all around us. Government, schools and social media have a role to play in promoting animal welfare.


When it comes to taking responsibility for animal welfare, we have high expectations of ourselves and governments across the UK. Nearly 1 in 8 (78%) people say individuals should take responsibility for animal welfare. National government comes second, as 64% of people want it to step up and take responsibility.

There has been an increase in the proportion of people who feel that ‘Animal welfare should be protected by the government through legislation’, with more than 8 in 10 (83%) agreeing, compared to 81% in 2022. This represents around 44.1 million people in the UK.

Fewer people believe that animal welfare in the UK has improved in the last five years – 34% in 2023 compared to 38% in 2022. This relative lack of progress is demonstrated by the UK Government’s recent decision to drop its flagship animal welfare legislation, the Kept Animals Bill. This proposed law, which was put forward as a bill in 2021, would have:

  • stopped export of live animals for fattening and slaughter
  • banned on importing dogs with cropped ears
  • placed restrictions on primates being kept as pets.

The Government is suggesting that, instead, MPs suggest new laws to tackle the issues outlined in it. But, with a General Election on the way, there is limited time for Parliament to progress legislation – and that is putting the welfare of animals at risk across the UK.

83% feel that animal welfare should be protected by government legislation
83% feel that animal welfare should be protected by government legislation


There is strong support for animal welfare to be taught in schools. In 2022, a majority (84%) of the public agreed that animal welfare should be taught in schools. This year, the survey asked about the benefits of teaching animal welfare. Over 7 in 10 (72%) people thought it would help pupils better understand how their actions affect animals. More than half (52%) said it would increase children’s compassion towards animals.  

In a packed curriculum full of many, often competing, priorities it can be hard to find the space. Our work with teachers shows that some schools already include animal welfare. Teacher Tapp, a daily survey of 9,000 teachers found that almost one-quarter of primary teachers (24%) said that caring for animals is already taught in their school. 

When asked where caring for animals would sit in the school day, a clear majority (61%) of primary teachers said it would be part of personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE). Teachers could also see opportunities to learn about animal welfare in citizenship, in wellbeing, and in the less formal ‘circle time’, which is held weekly in class.

72% thought teaching animal welfare would help pupils better understand how their actions affect animals

Social media

Approximately 4 in 10 (41%) people say they have seen animal cruelty online. This is where they felt someone was knowingly causing avoidable suffering to an animal. Although the overall results are similar to the 2022 findings, there have been changes in the social media platforms where cruelty has been seen. Cruelty witnessed on Tik Tok grew to 14% (compared to 11% in 2022) and 16% reported seeing cruelty on Instagram (compared to 10% in 2022). As these social media platforms attract younger audiences, it is unsurprising that a greater proportion of younger people have witnessed animal cruelty.

Social media platforms are increasingly using smart technologies to monitor content, reviewing it for authenticity and potential harm. Animal cruelty should be recognised as harmful content that should be minimised.

Increases in cruelty witnessed on social media 14% on Tik Tok and 16% on Instagrame

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Your local SPCA

The Animal Kindness Index 2023 was produced together with Scottish SPCA and Ulster SPCA. Find out more about your local SPCA.