Scottish Animal Welfare Commission minutes: 23 March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 23 March 2022.

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
  • Ellie Wigham

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


  • James Yeates, SAWC Member

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed the members to the first SAWC plenary meeting of 2022.

Updates and activity since last plenary meeting


Since the last plenary meeting in December:

  • Dr Ellie Wigham became the newest member of SAWC, replacing Professor Tim Parkin, who left his role last year
  • SAWC has replied to various pieces of correspondence on topics ranging from the welfare of performing animals to greyhound racing
  • work has been ongoing in the various established work streams (more details below)
  • an announcement has been made that the annual EuroFAWC meeting will take place at the end of May. The Chair represented SAWC at last year’s meeting and intends to do so again this year

Scottish Government

  • the roll out of licensing of dog and rabbit breeders and rescue centres is continuing to be undertaken by local authorities
  • the Good Food Nation Bill is progressing and it is hoped that references to animal welfare will be included in future Good Food Nation plans
  • officials will be monitoring a proposed Welfare of Dogs Bill, which will soon be launched by Christine Grahame MSP. It will propose introducing a registration scheme for any puppies born in Scotland, with a code of practice applying to buyers as well as sellers
  • a joint visit with the AWC Welfare at Killing Committee is to take place to look at fish killing on a land based site and vessel used for salmon killing in Oban and Fort William
  • 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
    • Animals Abroad Bill

Work group updates


The sentience sub-committee working group plans to meet again soon. 

Having discussed the findings of a London School of Economics report on sentience in cephalopod molluscs and decapod crustaceans at the last meeting, members are soon to send a letter responding to it.

Exotic pets

Confirmation of an exotic pets literature review has been made, with a scoping review of welfare issues in exotic pets being conducted through Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). The work group met with SRUC to discuss the details of what they are looking for.


The working group has agreed to have regular catch ups with the Scottish Government’s Wildlife Management Team. At their first meeting, various issues were discussed, including:

  • Hunting with Dogs Bill
  • fox control
  • glue traps
  • beavers

WAWC is preparing a position paper on all forms of live trapping. This is close to completion and will be shared with SAWC. This will be useful in helping SAWC form an opinion on wildlife welfare issues.


The work group has received responses from a range of stakeholders to the survey they issued at the end of last year. Members have digested all the material submitted and are now in a position to begin drafting a report.


In February, the work group members visited a salmon farm at Loch Fyne, where they learned about the welfare challenges associated with seal predation first hand. 

The work group members are continuing to interact with a range of stakeholders to assist them in forming their opinion. 

Dog training

The work group continue to discuss aspects of issues associated with dog training and training devices, especially electronic collars, including:

  • differences between electronic collar machines, settings and how they are applied
  • example of e-collars used on Wolves in the United States
  • example of the use of e-collars in New Zealand to reduce kiwi predation
  • virtual fencing as an alternative device

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 focused on:

  • virtual fencing
  • tails docking and castration in lambs
  • Kept Animals Act
  • various consultations
  • welfare at killing, including the aforementioned visit with SG to look at fish killing on a land-based site and vessel used for salmon killing in Oban and Fort William

Next meeting/s

The next plenary meeting will take place on 17 June.


Other topical welfare issues were discussed, including:

  • performing animals
  • welfare impact of firework displays
  • snaring
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