North Cornwall Lib-Dem MP Dan Rogerson misses the point about the small number of domestic pets that are known to have contracted bovine TB.
The official numbers may be low – but to say, as he did, that they are not enough for people to worry about is incredibly complacent.
(To be fair to Mr. Rogerson, we think it was the answer to his question (53) that Mr. Bell has picked up on, and not the question itself. Both Hilary Benn and Alick Simmonds implied all the TB infected cats had been pinching green top milk, to which Mr. Rogerson replied that other free roaming animals were known to have TB - a point with which Mr. Simmonds, somewhat reluctantly we thought, agreed.) Mr. Bell continues:
If the Health Protection Agency thinks there is minimal risk to the public why is there no reference on the HPA website to the Cornwall veterinary nurse and her dog who are believed to have contracted TB from badgers' urine on her garden lawn?This was story we covered here where we made similar points to those Mr. Bell fears. 42 cats have contracted bTB in the last 3 years, all have been identified as having the spoligotype circulating within their home area.
The dog has been put down and top HPA scientists are investigating the case, so why hush it up?
Reported TB cases in South West pets could be the tip of an iceberg because cats and dogs, particularly older ones, are taken to the vet coughing up bloody sputum and are humanely killed without taking X-rays of their lungs or swab tests.
Our six-year-old labrador developed a coughing illness and the vets assumed he had kennel cough. His breathing became laboured, finally he was hacking up mucus and, despite being given oxygen and adrenaline, he died in a Sevenoaks surgery. To this day we don't know what illness killed him as there wasn't an autopsy.
If Hilary Benn is placing pets, their owners and children at risk of contracting TB from infected badgers because he and his officials are running scared of the Badger Trust, he needs to get his political priorities sorted out pretty damn fast.
Mr. Benn hasn't that much more time in which to prevaricate - when is the next election due??
I am a Labour Party member, but I won't hesitate to give the minister large amounts of grief if he continues to block a cull of badgers because of a bad press from people in woolly hats crawling into badger setts trying to stop TB-infected animals from being gassed.
There's a rather more influential lobby that Mr Benn needs to start worrying about. Pet owners – 30 million of us.
And this splendid broadside is signed: