Scottish animal welfare: Majority of Scots want stronger laws according to survey

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More than 80 per cent of Scots are in favour of stronger animal welfare regulations, a new survey has revealed.

A YouGov poll showed that 84% of Scots would support strengthening the regulation and enforcement of welfare standards in the pet trade, including breeders and online sales.

It comes as the Scottish SPCA has reported an increase in illegal puppy sales and trading during the pandemic.

A new campaign, More for Scotland’s Animals (MFSA), has been launched by a coalition of 10 of the UK’s top animal welfare organisations.

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The campaign is calling on candidates for the upcoming Holyrood election to pledge support for stronger regulations if elected to the Scottish Parliament in May.

Bob Elliot, director of OneKind – a charity aimed at ending cruelty towards animals, said: “What is clear from the results of the poll is that the Scottish public expect the incoming Scottish Parliament to prioritise animal welfare in the next session.

“Voters will be considering companion, wild and farmed animal welfare when they take to the ballot box this spring.

“We are delighted to be co-ordinating the More for Scotland’s Animals campaign group to encourage MSPs to pledge to do more for Scotland’s animals.

“Animals play a key role in society, and the public care deeply about how they are treated, whether they are farmed, wild or companion animals.

“In the upcoming months we will be encouraging candidate MSPs to take part in a series of actions to pledge their commitment to animal welfare.

“We look forward to working with the incoming Parliament and Government to make Scotland a better place for animals.”

The poll also shows that 76% of Scots want to see a ban on the use of snares and 67% support a ban on the use of farrowing crates for sows. The crates house pigs prior to them giving birth and for up to four weeks after, which are so small that they cannot turn around.

Jacqui Cuff, from Cats Protection, said: “Cats Protection is delighted to be part of the More for Scotland’s Animals Campaign.

“Scotland is a nation of cat lovers and our recent CATS 2020 report confirmed that there are 785,000 owned cats in Scotland – that’s one for almost every seven people.

“Scotland is truly a nation of proud cat lovers.

“We look forward to working with newly elected members to continue to improve cat welfare in Scotland.”

Paula Boyden, veterinary director for the Dogs Trust, said: “The More for Scotland’s Animals campaign is an important initiative which seeks to give animals a louder voice in Scotland, and we are proud to be part of this.

“Dogs Trust has long been campaigning for measures to improve dog welfare in Scotland.

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“Whilst the Scottish Government has already taken important steps to tackle animal cruelty, we hope that members electe to Parliament will support our calls for action to further safeguard the welfare of our canine friends, including the introduction of a ban, in legislation, on the use of aversive training devices.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government takes animal welfare and wildlife crime very seriously and is committed to ensuring the highest standards in Scotland.

“That is why we have taken a range of actions over this Parliament, from banning wild animals in travelling circuses through to the recent Animals and Wildlife Act, which increases the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife crimes, and offers more protection to animals, including service animals and mountain hares.

“We are introducing a new modern licensing regime for dog breeders and pet sellers (including ‘Lucy’s Law’) to prevent the third party sale of puppies and kittens as pets, as well as licensing of animal rescue centres and rehoming activities, and cat and rabbit breeding.

“We have also established the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission to provide independent expert advice on animal welfare matters and we are currently consulting on possible improvements to animal transport legislation.

“In addition, as part of our response to the Werrity report, we confirmed we will bring forward plans to license grouse moors in a bid to tackle raptor persecution. We will continue to work with our partners and Scotland’s animal welfare organisations to ensure animals have the best possible protection.”

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