Scottish Animal Welfare Commission minutes: 16 December 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC), held on 16 December 2021.

Attendees and apologies


Commission members

Cathy Dwyer, Chair

Harvey Carruthers

Andrew Kitchener

Mike Flynn

Libby Anderson

Mike Radford

Simon Girling

Pete Goddard

Marie Haskell

Paula Boyden

James Yeates

Animal Welfare Committee

Peter Jinman, Chair

Scottish Government

Andrew Voas, Veterinary Head of Animal Welfare

Andy McKinlay, Policy Officer and Secretariat Support, Animal Welfare Team


Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed the members to what was the seventh plenary meeting of the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC).

Updates and activity since last plenary meeting


A number of activities have taken place since the last plenary meeting in September:

Several members represented SAWC at a meeting with the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee on 10th November (Rescheduled from 29th September). They provided views on current animal welfare issues and:

Scottish Government

  • work has been ongoing on licensing legislation. In September it became a legal requirement for dog and rabbit breeders and sellers to be licensed

  • work has begun on a consultation process on the licensing of performing animals, which will take place over the next year or two
  • there has been joint work undertaken with the Animal Welfare Committee looking at the issues of sheep castration and tail docking
  • officials continue to monitor and work with DEFRA on Bills which may extend to Scotland or have a potential impact in Scotland, i.e (Animal Sentience Bill, UK Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill and proposed “Animals Abroad” Bill)

Work Group updates


A first meeting of the proposed sentience sub-committee took place in early November. This group will have the function of reviewing sentience-related issues that come up, and filter and prioritise what SAWC puts into its programme of work.

Action: Sub-committee to reconvene in the New Year – Secretariat to set up a meeting.

Members have discussed the findings of a London School of Economics report on sentience in cephalopod molluscs and decapod crustaceans.

Action: Members to draft a letter responding to the LSE report.

Exotic Pets

The work group agreed to undertake an exotic pets literature review. Members have worked on the scope of the request in order to make it more manageable and to concentrate on key issues. A list is being compiled of what species/groups to focus on, as well as potential key word searches.

Action: Work group to finalise species list and keyword search terms in order to commission a literature review at the earliest opportunity in the new year.


A collective SAWC response has been issued to a recent Scottish Government consultation on the use of dogs to control foxes and other wild animals.

A Scottish Government review on snaring is being undertaken, and officials have welcomed input from SAWC on welfare issues. Snaring is an issue which SAWC has considered looking at, as a follow on from their earlier focus on the use of rodent glue traps.

Action: Members to discuss snaring in more depth ahead of next plenary meeting.


The work group has reconvened, following the judgment of the recent judicial review into the issuing of licenses for killing beavers. A survey has been sent out to a range of stakeholders to investigate the welfare issues associated with the management and control of wild beavers in Scotland.

Action: Work group to review survey responses in the new year.


The work group received a positive response to stakeholders to a survey sent out focused on the issue of interaction between salmon and marine predators and the role of acoustic deterrent devices.

The work group discussed a potential visit to a salmon farm in the new year to witness welfare challenges first hand.

ActionSecretariat to look into logistics of potential farm visit.

The work group have also received assistance in developing an ethical framework, seeking to identify for each different interest group (farmed fish, cleaner fish, seals, other cetaceans, wild fish etc.) the ethical impacts in terms of welfare, flourishing, freedom and fairness.

Dog Training

The work group continue to review existing research papers on issues associated with dog training and training devices.

Action: Work group to continue to discuss existing evidence on welfare issues associated with dog training and training devices, with the aim of producing an interim report. In the first half of the year.

Work Plan discussion

Members discussed potential revisions to the latest work plan based on discussions at this plenary session.

Update on Animal Welfare Committee Work (AWC)

Peter Jinman and the Chair attended the latest AWC working group meeting on lamb tail-docking and castration. Other recent work includes the completed opinion on snake container sizing, gathering evidence on fish slaughter and a new working group considering the welfare implications of virtual fencing for livestock.

Next meetings

The next plenary meeting will take place on 23 March.


Other topical welfare issues were discussed, including:

  • welfare at slaughter
  • impacts of COVID-19 on animal welfare
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