Leading animal welfare campaigns charity OneKind has welcomed today’s commitment by the Scottish Government to animal welfare in the year ahead. These include further commitments to creating an Animal Welfare Commission, as well as introducing a “Lucy’s Law” for Scotland and increasing the maximum penalties for cruelty to both domestic and wild animals.
Pledges in the Programme for Government 2019/20 include a new Animal Health and Welfare (Amendment) Bill that will increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare offences to five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and also make changes to the maximum penalties for various wildlife offences. The Bill will increase the protection for service animals and will provide powers for fixed penalty notices and a new process to allow seized animals to be sold or rehomed quickly.
OneKind Director Bob Elliot commented:
“Scottish voters want to see their government take a progressive approach to animal welfare and it’s fair to say that Scotland has taken a lead in the UK in some areas, such as the use of wild animals in circuses, and the announcement of an Animal Welfare Commission. And there’s much to welcome in the commitments for the coming year.
“We welcome the proposal to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years’ imprisonment. Some offences are so severe that there has to be a punitive element to reflect public abhorrence of such acts.
“In particular, there has been huge public concern about ensuring justice when working animals, such as police dogs, are attacked. OneKind’s position is that all welfare offences are equally serious, regardless of the status of the victim, but we do believe that attacks on any service animals should be classed as aggravated offences. These animals do a lot for people and we owe them an additional duty of care. We look forward to learning more about the proposed approach.”
In relation to interim Scottish Animal Welfare Commission Bob added:
“OneKind is delighted to hear that recruitment is now under way for the interim Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, which will provide advice on the welfare of sentient animals, including wild animals. Scotland has taken a lead on this and we congratulate the Scottish Government on its progressive approach – getting on with the job in the interests of the animals”.
Other commitments include:
- Secondary legislation in 2020 to introduce compulsory video recording of slaughter in abattoirs and proposed support for industry to introduce CCTV before it becomes compulsory.
- Exploring the potential for new systems of calf rearing in the dairy sector. OneKind recommends that existing good examples should be supported and that calf exports should be suspended immediately.
- A licensing system for dog, cat and rabbit breeders, pet sellers and animal sanctuaries and rehoming services. The Scottish Government states that it intends to take “the most robust approach in the UK”. The new licensing system will, among other things, prevent the sale of puppies and kittens under six months old in the course of business by anyone other than the breeder – known as ‘Lucy’s Law’. OneKind has long supported a ban on third party sales and is pleased to see Scotland following the example of the other UK administrations. The charity will also be looking for measures to address the trade in non-traditional or “exotic” pets and for legislation to regulate the use of animals used for performance or exhibition.
- On other wildlife matters, the Scottish Government plans to develop a strategic approach to wildlife management “that puts animal welfare at the centre while protecting public health and economic and conservation considerations” and to publish a set of principles next year. OneKind sees it as vitally important that animal welfare is given full weight and not over-ridden by other considerations – an issue raised in the charity’s pending parliamentary petition on trapping and snaring on grouse moors.
The Programme also confirms the Scottish Government’s intention to introduce a Good Food Nation Bill. OneKind welcomes this but would like to see it include a commitment to recognise animal welfare as an element of food quality, and to create a Scottish Food Commission.
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is Scotland’s leading animal campaigns charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals. OneKind works to expose cruelty and persecution through investigations and research covering Scotland’s wildlife, farm animals and pets. Find out more about our work at onekind.scot
- The programme for government 2018-2019 can be viewed here.