The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all of our animals continue to enjoy the highest standards of welfare.
The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 (the Act) was an important landmark for animal welfare in Scotland.
However, stakeholders involved in the enforcement of the Act have raised concerns around the penalties available to punish the perpetrators of the most severe animal cruelty offences; and also about the ability to quickly make the best arrangements for animals that have been taken into possession to protect their welfare.
In the most recent Programme for Government documents we have set out a number of measures which will form part of a suite of new improvements to animal welfare in Scotland:
We will take steps to allow animals taken into the protection of the Scottish SPCA or local authorities to be rehomed much more quickly and efficiently than at present and introduce increased sentences for the worst types of animal cruelty, including attacks on police dogs, an initiative known as ‘Finn’s Law’.
We will prepare to amend the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to increase the maximum penalty for the most serious cruelty offences to five years’ imprisonment as well as allowing fixed penalty notices for lesser offences.
The Scottish Government Animal Welfare Team has been progressing these commitments, and is now seeking to explore possible amendments to the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. These are to:
- increase the maximum available penalties for the worst type of animal welfare offences to a prison sentence of five years, an unlimited fine or both (and make related procedural changes);
- give Scottish Ministers a power to make regulations allowing fixed penalty notices to be used in relation to animal welfare offences; and
- allow approved inspectors or bodies to quickly make the best arrangements for animals which have been taken into possession under section 32 of the Act after a specified period of time without the need for a court order.
Telephone: 0300 244 4750