News In Focus
Tougher penalties for animal cruelty proposed
The Scottish Government is seeking views on proposals to strengthen enforcement powers for animal welfare offences.
Proposed amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 would increase the maximum penalty for the most serious cruelty offences from 12 months to five years' imprisonment, and a potential unlimited fine.
The new tougher penalties could also apply to attacks against service animals, for which a campaign is being mounted.
Other proposed changes would allow quicker rehoming of animals removed by animal welfare inspectors. This would make it possible for abused or neglected animals to move to new homes immediately, instead of being subject to potentially lengthy stays in temporary facilities.
Enforcement authorities would be empowered to raise fixed penalty notices, which animal welfare inspectors could issue for offences such as missing documents.
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said: "The Scottish Government is taking bold steps to try to further improve the welfare of our animals, and we believe the best way to do that is to challenge and change negative attitudes and behaviour. As such, I hope that strengthening these powers will send a strong message that such abhorrent behaviour will not be tolerated in a modern, progressive and responsible society such as Scotland.
"We want to have the highest standards of welfare for our animals, but before we introduce new legislation, it’s vital that we know what relevant stakeholders – particularly those with practical experience of animal cruelty issues."
Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 26 April 2019.