We’re very pleased to let you know that the Scottish Government has announced a series of animal welfare commitments this week. The Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougen MSP revealed the Scottish Government will be introducing CCTV in abattoirs, strengthening the fox hunting ban, and increasing the maximum sentences for cruelty to animals. Other commitments include legislation to regulate animal sanctuaries and re-homing centres, and licensing dog, cat and rabbit breeding.
In her opening statement, Mairi Gougen MSP commended groups like OneKind for their hard work stating that she was “heartened and impressed by their commitment.” You can watch the full statement here.
CCTV in Slaughterhouses
Following our campaigning, we’re thrilled that the Scottish Government has committed to introducing compulsory video recording in all relevant areas of slaughterhouses in Scotland. We launched our campaign for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses in 2016 and worked closely with Animal Aid on it. We presented a 10,000-signature petition to the Scottish Government, held a briefing event for MSPs, and our supporters responded to the government’s consultation on the issue . This is a fantastic move, and we’d like to thank everyone who supported us on this campaign. We couldn’t have done it without you all!
Significantly on the issue of fox hunting, the Scottish Government will reduce the maximum number of dogs that can be used to flush a wild mammal towards a gun for shooting to two, and intends to discourage trail hunting, which is used in England as a pretext for hunting foxes.
The Scottish Government intends to implement the recommendations made by Lord Bonomy in his review of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. These include improved definitions of hunting, removal of the word “deliberately” from the main offence, tightening up on the drafting of exceptions and reversing the burden of proof so that an individual is required to show that an exception applies.
Speaking on the announcement, OneKind’s Director Bob Elliot said:
“At first sight we welcome the reduction of the number of dogs permitted for flushing to two, but obviously we remain concerned at the proposal to license greater numbers in some cases. There will be no gain for animal welfare if this provides a new loophole for fox hunts to exploit, although we entirely accept the Minister’s intention is to prevent this happening.
“The changes will make the legislation more effective and enforceable, but ultimately we support a full ban on all use of dogs to chase and kill sentient wild mammals. We continue look forward to the proposed Member’s Bill expected from Scottish Green MSP, Alison Johnstone, and very much welcome the Minister’s acknowledgment of those proposals.”
Animal Welfare Commission
We’ve been pressing for the establishment of an Animal Welfare Commission for Scotland to provide expert advice on the welfare of domesticate and wild animals in Scotland, so we’re delighted that it has been announced by the Scottish Government. We expect the commission, which will be the first in the UK, to be founded on the recognition that animals are sentient beings and therefore there is a duty on the government and its agencies to pay full regard to their welfare.
Overall, we’re delighted by the commitments but of course there’s more that we want to call for. We’ll be looking for an outright ban on fox hunting and a full ban on the use of snares. We’ll also be calling for regulating on the use of animals in displays, like reindeer at Christmas, and pushing for a ban on mountain hare culling and continue to fight the welfare issues concerning the intensive farming of salmon .