Scottish Animal Welfare Commission minutes: 15 August 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 15 August 2023.


Attendees and apologies

Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) members

  • Cathy Dwyer, Chair
  • Mike Flynn
  • Libby Anderson
  • Mike Radford
  • Andrew Kitchener
  • Simon Girling
  • Pete Goddard
  • Paula Boyden
  • Marie Haskell
  • Ellie Wigham

Scottish Government

  • Andrew Voas, Veterinary Head of Animal Welfare
  • Andy McKinlay, Policy Officer and Secretariat Support, Animal Welfare Team


  • Harvey Carruthers, SAWC
  • James Yeates, SAWC

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed the members to the penultimate SAWC plenary meeting of 2023. 

Updates and activity since last plenary meeting


Since the last plenary meeting in May 2023:

SAWC published:

SAWC was represented at a RAI Committee evidence session on the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill

SAWC responded to a RAI Committee call for views on the Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill

Has been working on a response to a Scottish Government consultation on licensing activities involving animals

Engaged in discussions on:

  • managing feral populations of animals
  • rewilding and translocation
  • slaughter and mobile abattoirs

SAWC’s working groups have continued to work on a range of animal welfare issues (see Work Group Updates section below)

Scottish Government

  • Officials continue to monitor and work with  DEFRA on issues which may extend to Scotland or have a potential impact in Scotland.  Key interests in: livestock exports; dog and cat imports; zoo licensing
  • The Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill has been introduced
  • Issued a consultation on licensing activities involving animals (which SAWC is working on a response to, see above)
  • New Minister for Energy and the Environment, Gillian Martin, has been appointed.  Officials have been briefing her on animal welfare priorities
  • A vision for sustainable aquaculture paper has been published
  • Ongoing discussions on animal welfare issues ahead of publication of Programme for Government in September

Work group updates


The working group has continued to discuss the issue of cleaner fish.  Currently reading over the available literature and will plan a way forward at the next work group meeting in September.

Dog training

Ongoing discussions on other aversive training measures.

Wildlife welfare

Members met with NatureScot in June, and discussion topics included:

  • Beavers; Deer; Barnacle Geese
  • licensing
  • public perceptions on animal welfare issues

SAWC and NatureScot have agreed to have regular catch ups, with the next one scheduled for November.

SAWC has drafted and published its own position paper on wildlife welfare.

Local authorities handling animal welfare issues

The working group continue to discuss these issues, holding regular meetings. 

Responsible cat ownership

Members have continued to consult policy documents and positions of other agencies and countries, and reading the available literature.  The group has held a number of stakeholder meetings to discuss the key issues of microchipping, vaccination and neutering.


Meetings have been held, to discuss fish sentience.  Members have agreed to read through some of the available literature and discuss at the next work group meeting in October.

Slaughter and mobile abattoirs

Discussions on long journeys and related  issues due to declining availability of local slaughter facilities have begun, and a formal work group will be set up.  A data gathering exercise is the first step.

Rewilding and translocation

Pete circulated a paper on reintroductions which he wrote for WAWC a couple of years ago.  It was agreed to set up a Wildlife Welfare sub-group to discuss issues further.

Work plan discussion

Members discussed what potential revisions should be made to the current work plan.

Update on UK Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) work

Some of the ongoing work by AWC includes activity around the following areas:

  • avian Influenza control
  • welfare implications of feline breeding practices
  • welfare implications of specialised canine reproductive practices
  • livestock breeding
  • ooultry culling and nitrogen foam
  • welfare of pigs

Next meeting/s

The next plenary meeting will take place on 8th November 2023.

Any other business

Confirmation has been made that EuroFAWC’s next annual meeting will take place in Edinburgh in 2024.  Details on dates and location are tbc.

Back to top