Scottish Animal Welfare Commission minutes: 29 September 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 29 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) members

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

Scottish Government

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

Items and actions


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

Updates and activity since last plenary meeting


Since the last plenary meeting in March:

  • following SAWC’s representation at a Parliamentary evidence session on the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill on 15 June, further written evidence was sent to the RAINE Committee to provide further context to the comments made in the evidence session
  • SAWC’s working groups have continued to work on reports (see Work Group Updates section below)
  • correspondence received and responded to included focuses on the microchipping of cats, horse welfare, greyhound racing and exotic pet keeping
  • SAWC has been following the potential changes at Westminster regarding animal welfare priorities and will continue to monitor developments in this area

Scottish Government

  • following the change of administration and potentially a change of priorities on animal welfare issues, officials continue to monitor and work with DEFRA on issue which may extend to Scotland or have a potential impact in Scotland, i.e.:
  • Animal Sentience Act
  • UK Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill
  • Discontinued Animals Abroad Bill
  • Precision Breeding Bill
  • recent meeting between the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Crustacean Compassion and OneKind to discuss crustacean welfare and legislation
  • ongoing preparation for consultation on the licensing of animal experiences/performing animals; animal care services; and equine establishments
  • ongoing discussions on improving welfare in transport
  • keeping an eye on discussions around greyhound racing – currently awaiting a RAINE Committee report on the issue (SAWC previously fed in to their evidence gathering process)

Work group updates

Exotic pets

Members of this work group met in mid-September to draw some final conclusions and prepare report for forthcoming publication. This will be published simultaneously with the literature review carried out by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).


Work group members continue to work on their report. More evidence gathering is also underway, and it is now hoped that everything will be finalised in time for publication at the turn of the year.

Dog training

Work on the report on the use of electronic collars is ongoing, and members have been having regular meetings to discuss and finalise their conclusions. Another work group meeting is scheduled for later in October. It is now expected that the report will be ready to discuss with all SAWC members at the next plenary – the intention is for it to be published soon after.


SAWC has recently been working on a position paper on the live trapping of terrestrial wild mammals and using snares for lethal control in Scotland. This is expected to be published shortly.


Work group members continue to work on drafting a report. Members have also been discussing the new National Beaver Strategy which has just been published by NatureScot.

Wildlife welfare

Work group members met with NatureScot officials, and had a useful discussion on NatureScot’s position paper on wildlife management. SAWC has offered to feed into any revised paper which NatureScot might produce in future.

Work plan discussion

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

Update on UK Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) work

Recent work has included:

  • recruitment for the new Animal Sentience Committee. The Chair has been announced as Michael Seals, and work is expected to commence next year
  • a report on virtual electric fencing for livestock has been drafted and will be published in due course
  • ongoing work on tail docking and castration in lambs, with a report expected soon

Next meeting/s

The next plenary meeting will take place on 25th January 2023.

Any other business

Members discussed how local authorities handle animal welfare issues – a topic featuring in SAWC’s recently revised work plan, published in July. Members agreed to form a new work group to discuss this further.

Drafts of this year’s SAWC Annual Report and Legislative Review of Scottish Government activity affecting the welfare of animals were circulated to members ahead of the plenary to consider. These were discussed in detail, and members aim to publish both reports shortly.

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