Scottish Animal Welfare Commission minutes: 17 June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 17 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) members

  • Cathy Dwyer, Chair
  • Harvey Carruthers
  • Mike Flynn
  • Libby Anderson
  • Mike Radford
  • Simon Girling
  • Pete Goddard
  • Marie Haskell
  • Paula Boyden
  • Ellie Wigham
  • James Yeates

Animal Welfare Committee (AWC)

  • Peter Jinman, Chair

Scottish Government

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


  • Andrew Kitchener, SAWC

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed the members to the second Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) plenary meeting of 2022.

Updates and activity since last plenary meeting


Since the last plenary meeting in March:

  • the Chair represented SAWC at the annual meeting of the European Forum for Animal Welfare Councils (EuroFAWC) in Berlin on 31 May and 1 June. EuroFAWC is a platform for debate and for sharing information and views for animal welfare councils throughout Europe and New Zealand. At this meeting:
      • several commissions had been focusing on similar issues to SAWC, for example Belgian’s devolved commissions are looking at shock collars for dogs; Finland is looking at animal welfare concerns over fireworks; and New Zealand is looking at greyhound racing
      • the SAWC Chair also delivered two presentations – on animal sentience and on wildlife welfare
  • in May, SAWC submitted a letter to the Minister for Community Safety regarding the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill
  • in May, SAWC responded to an enquiry from the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Committee which asked for its views on greyhound racing in Scotland
  • in April, SAWC submitted a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands regarding its opinion on a London School of Economics (LSE) study on cephalopod and decapod sentience

Scottish Government

  • starting to consider secondary legislation to look at controls of live imports – issues like restricting the age of puppies to 6 months, prohibiting import of animals with mutilations and prohibiting import in late stage of pregnancy
  • legislation for the Good Food Nation Bill has gone through parliament, and there is reference within to Animal Welfare
  • joint visits with the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) Welfare at Killing Committee took place to look at fish killing on a land based site and vessel used for salmon killing in Oban and Fort William; and on trout killing at a site near Salisbury
  • officials continue to monitor and work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (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
      • Animals Abroad Bill

Work group updates


In April, SAWC submitted a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands regarding its opinion on a LSE study on cephalopod and decapod sentience.

The Sentience Sub-committee working group met again and identified two tasks to undertake:

  • develop an ethics and justice framework, drawing on recent Aquaculture Working Group work
  • assembling evidence for fish sentience

This work is ongoing and members will report back at the next plenary session.

Exotic pets

A literature review on the welfare issues of exotic pets in Scotland was carried out by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Members are digesting all the information contained within, and will meet soon to discuss and to determine what the next steps should be.


Work group members continue to examine all the evidence gathered and are working on drafting a report. 

SAWC has been contributing to NatureScot’s National Beaver Strategy, which will provide a high-level vision for beavers in Scotland by 2045. 


The work group members have continued to engage with a range of stakeholders to assist them in forming their opinion. 

Members have begun drafting an initial report, and hope to have one ready by the end of the summer.

Dog training

The working group has continued to engage with stakeholders on both sides of the electronic collar debate. 

A literature review on welfare aspects is underway by members of the working group. The intention is to complete a report by the end of the summer.

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)

Recent work has included:

  • looking at welfare grants in relation to the future of farming
  • catching of poultry – how they are handled
  • ongoing work on virtual fencing; tails docking and castration in lambs; welfare at killing of fish
  • ongoing selection process for AWC’s newly set up Sentience Committee

The importance of SAWC and AWC’s Sentience Committee working together was highlighted.

Next meeting

The next plenary meeting will take place on 29 September 2022.


Members agreed to begin thinking about this year’s SAWC annual report, and work on drafting this will begin shortly.

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