Scottish Animal Welfare Commission minutes: 22 September 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 22 September 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

Scottish Government:

  • Andrew Voas – Veterinary Head of Animal Welfare
  • Andy McKinlay – Policy Officer and Secretariat Support, Animal Welfare Team
  • Leia Fitzgerald – Team Leader, Wildlife Management Team

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed the members to what was the 6th plenary meeting of SAWC.

Updates and activity since last plenary meeting


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

Scottish Government

Licensing legislation for dog cat and rabbit breeders for animal rescue services, pet sales, and breeding centres came into force on 1st  September - Scottish Government officials have worked with local authorities and the SSPCA to develop a training package for local authorities.

Work has been ongoing to finalise commencement of the Animals and Wildlife Act, which will give powers to local authorities and the SSPCA to take mistreated animals into possession without needing a court of order. It will come into force on 30th September.

The Programme for Government, published on 7th September, has numerous wildlife and welfare commitments, including commitments to:

  • a new independent review of fish farming regulation
  • create a new dedicated Scottish veterinary service
  • review animal welfare legislation by 2025
  • take forward a bill on fox hunting

Work is ongoing by DEFRA on certain bills which officials are keeping an eye on for potential impact on issues in Scotland, such as:

  • Sentience Bill
  • UK Kept Animals Bill
  • UK Animals Abroad Bill

Work group updates


A report on ascribing sentience to animals and a case study of the evidence for sentience in cephalopods was published on 26th August.  

Members agreed that having completed the original work plan for the sentience work group, this group should now be formally concluded

However, there were discussions on the possibility of setting up a sentience sub-committee. This would have the function of reviewing sentience-related issues that come up, and filter and prioritise what SAWC puts into its programme of work.

Exotic pets

An interim report on exotic pets in Scotland was published on 3rd September.  

The work group have also discussed undertaking an exotic pets literature review.


Members discussed the principles of ethical wildlife control and confirmed that they stand ready to review the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Wildlife Management Principles document and to provide expert advice.

Notes on the discussion sessions which followed the Wild Animal Welfare Committee’s virtual international conference (which had SAWC input) in April are being written up and will be published on WAWC’s website shortly. 


The work group have begun to engage with stakeholders on the issue of interaction between salmon and marine predators and the role of acoustic deterrent devices.  

Dog training

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


  • secretariat to set up an initial discussion for members to scope out the ideas related to the suggested sentience sub-committee
  • work group to continue evidence gathering, with aim to complete and publish final report on exotic pets next year
  • work group to continue work on the evidence gathering process on welfare issues associated with salmon farming and acoustic deterrent devices
  • 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 coming months

SAWC legislative report

An initial draft of a report commenting on the Scottish Government’s legislation and policy relating to animal welfare issues in the past year has been produced.  


  • members to review the draft report before finalising and publishing

Work plan discussion

SAWC’s 2020-1 work plan has been revised to include updates on reports and statements SAWC reviewed over the course of that year.

Members discussed revising the 2021-2 work plan with links to recently published reports.


  • secretariat to revise 2021-2 work plan on the web page to reflect recent publications

Update on Animal Welfare Committee Work (AWC)

The Chair attended the latest AWC meeting and provided an update on its latest activity. The main focus was on the practice of lamb tail-docking and castration

Next meeting/s

The next plenary meeting will take place on 16th December.


Members discussed an upcoming meeting with the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee on 29th September. Several members will represent SAWC and provide views on current animal welfare issues, and suggest key issues they think the Committee should consider in session 6.

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