Scottish election candidates are to be quizzed on their views on animal welfare at a hustings in Edinburgh tomorrow (Thursday). Online pet trading, keeping wild animals as pets and snaring are expected to be discussed at the event after a recent poll found these were issues which aroused strong feelings among Scots.
According to the survey, Scottish voters are calling on the incoming parliament to do more to protect animals from cruelty and suffering.. The national opinion poll, carried out by YouGov on behalf of a coalition of animal welfare charities, also addressed circus animals, slaughter techniques and hunting.
Issues such as online pet trading, keeping primates as pets, the use of electric shock collars and snaring are among those the public feel most strongly about. The national opinion poll, carried out by YouGov, also sought opinions on issues such as wild animals in circuses, non-stun slaughter and fox hunting.
OneKind director Harry Huyton said: “Scotland has long been thought of as a nation of animal lovers and these new polling figures show this is clearly the case but also illustrates an electorate that wants to see positive change which benefits animal welfare. Once the polls close on 5 May 2016 the public want more for Scotland’s animals from the incoming Government and newly elected members”
Of those polled, 87 per cent agree that regulations should be introduced to protect pets which are traded online while only two per cent disagree. Seventy nine per cent believe there should be a ban on the keeping of primates as pets with only five per cent opposed and 77 per cent want to see a ban on electric shock collars for dogs.
Of the more controversial issues such as fox hunting, driven grouse shooting and tail docking, the public is still in favour of changes to the law to improve welfare. Fifty two per cent agree driven grouse shooting should be banned with 19 per cent opposed to a ban; 67 per cent support widening the fox hunting ban to ensure packs of dogs don’t chase foxes with only 11 per cent opposing this change; and 71 per cent believe the ban on tail docking of puppies, which is currently under review, should be maintained.
Other issues polled included ending the use of wild animals in circuses, prohibiting the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops and an end to non-stun slaughter of farm animals.
Senior vet and Head of Pet Health at vet charity PDSA, Nicola Martin, added: “Scotland is forward thinking when it comes to animal welfare legislation but there is still a huge way to go to end needless suffering. We urge the incoming Government to ensure appropriate laws are in place to provide the highest possible standards of animal welfare.”
Steve Goody, Blue Cross Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We’re really pleased to be working alongside other charities and have been asking all candidates to pledge to do more for Scotland’s animals ahead of the Scottish elections, and are hopeful that together we can make a real difference to pet welfare in Scotland. The Scottish Government has already taken some big steps forward when it comes to protecting pets, but there is still more to be done.”
Robbie Marsland, Director, League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said “The Scottish public knows what it wants when it comes to good animal welfare, so all we need now is a Parliament that delivers it”
“It is so important that Scotland’s political leaders are working to protect and promote the wellbeing of animals.” added Jacqui Cuff, Advocacy Manager at Cats Protection. “We are working with Scottish politicians to get progress on important cat welfare issues like updating the law on the sale of cats and kittens, boosting levels of microchipping, and getting animal welfare included in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. By signing up to the More For Animals campaign pledge we hope that election candidates will make these issues a priority.”
These issues will be discussed and debated at the More for Scotland’s Animals Hustings on 14th April at the Edinburgh City Chambers. The event is run jointly by the More for Scotland’s Animals partners: OneKind, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, PDSA and the League Against Cruel Sports. The Hustings will be chaired by British Veterinary President Sean Wensley with speakers including Scottish Conservatives candidate, Miles Briggs, Scottish Greens candidate Alison Johnstone, Sarah Boyack, candidate for Scottish Labour and the Scottish National Party candidate Ben MacPherson.
Notes to editor:
- The polling was commissioned by OneKind, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, PDSA and the League Against Cruel Sports as part of the More for Scotland’s Animals campaign. The campaign is asking candidate MSPs to pledge to do more for Scotland’s animals. 80 candidates have pledged to date.
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,009 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th – 24th March 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).
- The hustings will take place at 19:00 on Thursday 14 April at the Edinburgh City Chambers.