News

Protecting animals and wildlife

Published: 12 Mar 2020 00:01

Animal welfare bill to be debated.

A bill to strengthen animal cruelty penalties and introduce emergency procedures to rehome animals will be debated in Parliament today.

Members will be asked to agree to the general principles of the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill which aims to:

• increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine
• implement ‘Finn’s Law’ to protect service animals
• allow enforcement agencies to rehome animals taken into possession on welfare grounds without the need for a court order
• create powers to allow Fixed Penalty Notices for animal health and welfare offences

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said:

“This Bill sends a clear message that animal cruelty and wildlife crime will not be tolerated in Scotland.

“It seeks to safeguard domestic, farm and wild animals including raptors from the worst types of deliberate harm by increasing the maximum penalties for animal welfare and wildlife offences to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

“It is vital that the wellbeing of the animals we are seeking to protect is at the core of this new legislation. The Bill therefore proposes a new approach to caring for animals that have been taken into possession on welfare grounds, with new powers to allow enforcement authorities to rehome them without the need for a court order.

“I believe it is only right that the animals working to keep us safe be given the fullest protection in return. That is why the Bill also aims to enact what has become known as Finn’s law, making it easier to prosecute those who attack service animals such as police dogs and horses.

“Animal welfare is a subject many of us feel extremely passionately about, so I call on Members to support these important steps to further improve Scotland’s animal welfare standards.”

Background

Stage 1 of the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill will be debated at 15:20 on Thursday 12 March 2020.

If passed, the intention is that the legislation will be in force in 2020. Once in force, there will be improvements for enforcement agencies that will benefit all animals in Scotland.

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.

Finn’s Law is named after a police dog who was stabbed while trying to protect his handler from an attacker.