Animal Welfare Bill published

Modernising enforcement penalties.

New legislation to strengthen animal cruelty penalties and improve powers for front-line enforcement agencies has been published.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill will increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences to five years imprisonment and increase the maximum penalties for various other offences.

The Bill will implement ‘Finn’s Law’ giving extra protection to service animals, and provide a process to allow animals that have been taken into possession on welfare grounds to be sold or rehomed quickly without the need for a court order.

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said:

“We want to continue to have the highest standards of welfare for our animals and to have the most robust and proportionate penalties available.

“Through increasing the maximum penalties available for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences, we are ensuring that those who carry out these heinous acts will rightly face the full force of the law, as and where appropriate.

“We also want to see more protection given to service animals such as police dogs and horses, so we will be enacting what has become known as Finn’s law. I believe it is only right that animals which work to keep us safe should be given the fullest protection we can give them in return.

“Animal welfare is a subject I feel very passionately about, and call on stakeholders and parliament to support these bold steps to further improve Scotland’s high animal welfare standards.”

Kirsteen Campbell, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA, said:

“These exciting changes have the potential to be transformational for animals across the country and the Scottish SPCA.

“The power to rehome animals without a court order would be of massive benefit to their welfare. All receive incredible care from our expert teams, but this is no substitute for a loving home. 

“Prosecution is a last resort for the Society, but we have long felt the penalties for animal cruelty are too lenient and inconsistent. We hope increasing the options available to Sheriffs will lead to fewer people mistreating animals in the first place.”


A consultation on the provisions included within the Bill was carried out between 1 February 2019 26 April 2019, with the analysis published on 17 July 2019.


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