Scottish Animal Welfare Commission


Announced as part of the Programme for Government, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) will focus on protecting wild and companion animals while also providing scientific and ethical advice to government.

The Commission, which is chaired by Professor Cathy Dwyer will specifically look at:

  • how the welfare needs of sentient animals are being met by devolved policy
  • possible legislative and non-legislative routes to further protect the welfare of sentient animals
  • the research requirements to provide an evidence base for future policy development

A total of 12 commissioners were recruited through open advertisement and sit on the Commission in an individual capacity and not as representatives of particular groups or organisations.

Professor Cathy Dwyer is Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Scotland’s Rural College and sits as a scientific advisor on various international animal welfare bodies, including the EU Animal Welfare Platform, the Global Animal Partnership, and Dog’s Trust.

The Commission will only consider areas that are within the normal current remit of the UK Animal Welfare Committee and the UK Zoo Expert Committee where these relate to the overall responsibility of the Scottish Government.

A sentient animal is one that can experience feelings such as pain or pleasure.


The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission members are:

  • Professor Cathy Dwyer from Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Edinburgh (Chair)
  • Dr Harvey Carruthers, veterinary surgeon
  • Mike Radford, lawyer specialising in Animal Welfare
  • Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust
  • Professor Marie Haskell, Professor in Animal Welfare Science at Scotland’s Rural College
  • Dr James Yeates, Chief Executive Officer of the World Federation for Animals
  • Libby Anderson, Animal Welfare Policy Advisor
  • Professor Simon Girling, Head of Veterinary Services, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
  • Mike Flynn, Chief Superintendent at the Scottish SPCA
  • Dr Pete Goddard, veterinary surgeon
  • Dr Ellie Wigham, Lecturer in Veterinary Public Health, University of Glasgow

  • Dr Andrew Kitchener, Principal Curator of Vertebrates at the National Museum of Scotland

Officials from the Scottish Government Animal Welfare Team are invited to attend each meeting, with other Scottish Government officials invited to be represented depending on each meeting's agenda.










All enquiries about the work of SAWC should be addressed to the SAWC secretariat.



The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission Secretariat
Animal Health and Welfare Team
P-Spur, Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
Edinburgh EH11 3XD

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