In December 1993 the late Lord Houghton of Sowerby promoted the idea of establishing a new advisory committee, financed from non-government sources, to be called the Dog Control and Welfare Council. Lord Houghton wished to model this Council on the lines of the Farm Animal Welfare Council in that it would be recognised as an independent advisory body with its membership being appointed by Her Majesty’s Government.
Following extensive discussions it was agreed to broaden the remit to include all companion animals, not just dogs. The committee would concentrate on the welfare of companion animals thereby addressing the welfare needs of some 13 million dogs and cats in the U.K. as well as several million other companion animal species, and horses where they were kept as companion animals. The importance of companion animals is exemplified by the fact that one in every two households in the U.K. owns a companion animal.
A Steering Committee comprising representatives of a number of companion animals welfare organisations, members of both Houses of Parliament and other interested parties under the Chairmanship of Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, launched CAWC as an independent organisation in 1999 with funding through a charitable trust, the Welfare Fund for Companion Animals (WFCA).
CAWC is an independent organisation launched in 1999 and funded through a charitable trust, the Welfare Fund for Companion Animals (WFCA).
Funding is derived from companion animal welfare charitable organisations. Membership of CAWC is on an individual basis, according to the expertise of the Council member, and not on the basis of representation of the supporting animal welfare charities.
CAWC functions for companion animals in a similar way that the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) does for farm animals and that the Zoos Forum (now the Zoos Expert committee) does for zoo animals, although it does not receive Government support, as occurs for the other groups.
The great challenge for CAWC lies in the massive diversity of animals which fall within the companion animal definition. This calls for wide ranging expertise within its council.