Scottish Government to strengthen Animal Welfare Act

The Scottish Parliament debated the Animals & Wildlife (Penalties, Protections & Powers) (Scotland) Bill which will make vital updates to the existing Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. On Wednesday the Bill had its Stage 3 debate where MSPs voted for it to become law.

The Bill will increase penalties for serious animal health and welfare offences, including:

  • introducing Fixed Penalty Notices for animal welfare and health offences
  • making sure those who cause harm to a service animal are punished accordingly
  • increasing the maximum sentence for an animal cruelty offence from 1 year to 5 years

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust, said:

"A huge thank you to MSPs who have voted in favour of increasing the maximum sentence for those convicted of animal cruelty offences in Scotland, from one year to five years. This is a significant step forward for dog welfare. 

"We have long since campaigned to ensure the welfare of animals is a priority while trial proceedings take place. So, we are supportive of the Government’s decision to give enforcement agencies more powers to quickly transfer the ownership of animals seized as part of cruelty cases to a new keeper. This will prevent dogs spending long periods of time in holding kennels, which they may not be used to and could have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.

"These changes, coupled with effective enforcement and new powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices, will strengthen the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. We truly hope this will serve as a deterrent to criminals and protect more animals from harm."