1. Word from the Chair
It is my great pleasure to introduce this third annual review of the activities of the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC), reporting on our activities from October 2022 to September 2023. The SAWC Commissioners meet together on four occasions per year, which are now mostly in person and which have been very useful for detailed discussions. We also continue to have several working groups, which meet regularly, usually online as time-efficient methods of meeting and which are focused on addressing specific animal welfare issues of relevance to Scotland. As you can see in this report, the Commission continues to be very active in developing its work to address specific issues, and publishing reports as will be detailed below.
The work of the SAWC this year has considered a number of important welfare issues for wildlife and companion animals, with three published reports considering the welfare of farmed fish, of companion dogs and racing greyhounds. We have also published a position paper on the important issue of the welfare of wildlife, and continue to address other issues where there is a timely or important need to express an opinion for Scotland’s animals. Although SAWC takes guidance and requests from Scottish Government and others, it is independent in forming its workplan, and any recommendations are arrived at on the basis of evidence, considered from the point of view of animal welfare costs or benefits. SAWC also provides an opinion from the perspective of animal welfare on various consultations relating to the use of animals, or where proposed legislative changes may impact on animals’ lives.
SAWC has also continued to develop strong working links with related groups. The SAWC Chair and secretariat participated in the annual EuroFAWC meeting in June, and are developing plans to host the next meeting in Edinburgh. SAWC members regularly attend meetings of the Animal Welfare Committee (formerly Farm Animal Welfare Committee), and SAWC invites the Chair of AWC to attend SAWC plenary meetings. SAWC looks forward to continuing close and supportive contact with AWC and with the new Animal Sentience Committee. SAWC also maintains close working relationships with the Wild Animal Welfare Committee, which contributes to reports on wildlife matters. These contacts ensure that SAWC is able to provide a strong and impartial view on animal welfare for Scottish farm, companion and wild animals.
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