Scottish Animal Welfare Commission: workplan - July 2020

Plan of work for the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission.

Projects to start immediately

Animal sentience working group:

Prepare a statement on SAWC’s definition of animal sentience as a guide to our activities. This should be a living document that can be amended over time but should set the framework under which we will work and the relationships between sentience and animal welfare. We will take the definition from FAWC 2009 as a starting point and review this in the light of newer thinking and evidence. We should also acknowledge where there are unknowns and uncertainties in our assumptions and thinking. 

Timescale: Aim to complete within 3 months

Update: SAWC’s definition of animal sentience was published on 10 February 2021.

Glue traps working group

Provide an opinion on the use and impact of these forms of wildlife management. This may include, but not be restricted to, suggesting future regulations and control e.g. restricting use to professional pest managers only or others. This workshop group could also form the basis of a focus on wider issues of lethal wildlife management, which will need further thinking and scoping out (such as methods for determining loss of consciousness).


  • glue traps opinion completed within 3 months
  • scoping study completed within 6 months
  • group could then consider wider issues and other means of trapping and control such as snares etc. (to be discussed at future SAWC meetings)

Update: SAWC’s report on rodent glue traps  was published on 23 March 2021.

Exotic pets

To consider the issues (such as numbers of animals, lack of regulation, issues with importation and wild caught animals etc), and recommend whether there is a need for a positive list, or traffic light system to regulate ownership of certain types of pets.

TimescaleDraft opinion within 12 months

Update: SAWC to publish interim report in late summer 2021.

Wildlife welfare

The Scottish Government has a Programme for Government commitment to publish ‘a strategic approach to wildlife management that puts animal welfare at the centre while protecting public health and economic and conservation considerations. We will publish a set of principles next year.’

SAWC will review the principles and consider approving these if appropriate.

Timescale: Aim to have a draft document within 6-9 months

Deer Working Group report

Response from SAWC requested on proposals from Deer Working Group with respect to night shooting and the close season on deer. Review of report and discussion of welfare implications.

Timescale: 6-12 months to review and provide evidenced opinion.

Update: SAWC’s response to the Deer Working Group Report was published on 3 February 2021.

Other potential areas in medium term

Dog training and licensing of canine service providers

Review and provide an opinion on how dog trainers, groomers, dog walkers, paraclinical service providers etc can be regulated and managed. For example, should there be licensing of these service providers. Should also consider training practices, such as the use of electronic collars, and best practice guidance. This could also link to livestock worrying and responsible dog ownership.

Update: a working group to consider welfare issues associated with dog training was set up in February 2021.

Codes of practice vs industry guidance

Provide an opinion on how information can be best disseminated and its impact in practice. Role for SAWC in reviewing revised or new versions of these (alongside activities of AWC), particularly those falling under areas of particular Scottish concerns such as aquaculture.

Salmon farming/aquaculture practices

Provide an opinion on the animal welfare aspects of practices that are required to make this sector sustainable (e.g. sealice control, use of cleaner fish, fish handling and stress, enrichment etc). Liaise with Farm Fish Health Framework

Update: a working group to consider welfare issues associated with aquaculture was set up in February 2021.

Abattoir provision and opportunities for mobile slaughterhouses

From a Scottish perspective to review the welfare issues around numbers of abattoirs, slaughter journey times and the welfare of animals killed in mobile slaughterhouses.

Scottish Wildcat reintroduction

Consider welfare aspects of microchipping domestic cats, compulsory neutering of cats and outdoor cat controls – opportunity for SAWC to review policy or provide an opinion on welfare issues at some point. Andrew K to advise on current activities with SWC Action Plan Steering Group.

Potential areas over a longer time scale

Performing animals and animal encounters (potentially including therapy animals)

Currently stakeholder engagement activities in this area but SAWC could provide an opinion on welfare of animals used under these different types of management, including the lives of these animals when not on exhibit/in use.

Welfare of horses kept for racing

Currently no plans to look at this specifically but Tim Parkin to update SAWC on activities of HWB and may respond in future if specific questions from the Minister in this area.

Welfare of Cephalopods and Decapod Crustaceans

Currently research work in this area funded by Humane Slaughter Association, and Defra commissioning a review. Something to consider in the future particularly if definitions of sentience should be extended to these species, and need to revise or reconsider practices in the light of findings from these studies.

Update: SAWC’s definition of animal sentience covers cephalopods and decapod crustaceans.

Greyhound racing

Continuing pressure from SAGE in this area. Tim and Paula Boyden engaged with GBGB and Greyhound Forum and to update SAWC as necessary. Could be considered in future as GBGB regulation only covers licensed tracks, to address issues with unlicensed tracks, also whether regulation is effective in, for example, reducing fatalities at tracks.


Projects involving release of domestic or semi-domestic animals into a wild or partly wild setting raise various welfare concerns. SAWC would review these issues and provide best practice/policy advice.

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