Horses, guinea pigs, goats and lama's that want to apply for a place in a children's farm will have to be vetted by the Independent Safeguarding and E.coli Authority (ISEA).
"Small children pet the animals so parents should know their children are safe," Department of Health spokesperson Nicholas Hound told the Spoof today. "We are talking about a total of 22 million animals that will have to be checked and registered. We will start recruiting for extra staff in october."
The database will be in effect from the 1st of january 2010. Animals that are not registered by that time or that have been vetted and are found unsafe to be around children, will be taken to special farms. The location for these places will not be known to the wider public. "Its better that way," Hound said.
Angry farmers and parents have started a facebooksite called "Don't vet our pet," which already gained 6725 members on its first day. "Its madness to check every animal," Sue Richmond from Bristol emailed the Spoof. "Of course you worry, as a mother. You see your child alone with a hamster, hugging it, stroking it. God knows what that animal is thinking. But the evil ones will cheat the system, wont they?"
The massive cost of the vetting scheme, 230 million pounds for the first three years, is generating criticism too. "You could put extra security guards at every children's farm for that money," Tracey from Clapham writes. "Its naive to think you can register all animals. What if they miss one? And what about animals abroad? Children need to be able to spot the danger themselves. They have to learn to look a Shetland pony in the eye and know if they can or cannot trust it."
These arguments mean nothing to Hound and the ISEA-team. "If we can safe one child from a bacterial infection or from a horrible experience with a dodgy guinea pig, its worth it."