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Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Bill

On 5th October 2005 the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Kennel Club broadly welcomes many aspects within the Bill particularly the ‘duty of care’ now placed on the owners of animals as well as their progeny.

An extensive response was submitted by SKC and it is with great disappointment that that response was not included in the Analysis. A letter has already been sent in an attempt to establish the reason for this omission.

There are a few aspects of the Bill which may have a great impact on the pedigree dog community which SKC would like to highlight:-

The greatest impact will be the prohibition of docking except for working dogs (gun and sniffer). Vets will have to be satisfied that some dogs in the litter will be used for working before docking. We await the details of what will be regarded as acceptable evidence. The Bill still maintains that docking is performed to conform to Breed Standards regardless of the fact the KC altered these some time ago.

The Breeding & Sale of Dogs Act 1999 will be repealed. As this is a UK Act, it must be assumed that this has been agreed with Westminster. Other measures will replace it. Breeding Licences will be issued for a 3 year period at a cost of approximately £400-800 with the option for annual inspection. Consideration is being given to implementing within the Breeding of Dogs Act the following provisions:-

-veterinarian screening of breeding dogs for genetic and medical disorders;
- identification of breeding dogs;
- a duty on dog breeders to give advice to customers;
- puppies will need to be socialised before sale;
- professional dog breeders to need qualifications;
- no puppies to be transported until they are at least 8 weeks old.

Local Authorities and inspectors will have the authority to inspect premises and will have right of entry into domestic premises only if authorised by warrant. Should an animal be found in distress, inspectors have the authority to remove and/or destroy it. This authority also extends to the removal of distressed dogs left in cars in hot weather.

Home boarding of dogs from more than one owner will require to be licensed and may be subject to annual inspection.

Pet dealers will require to be licensed with conditions placed on the granting of such licence. (SKC submitted the opinion that this is contrary to decades of education that buyers should see the puppies with their mother.)

‘Animal Gatherings’ are required to be licensed however it is understood that that will not apply to dog shows.

It has yet to be decided whether Agility/Flyball etc will come under any secondary legislation on ‘Performing Dogs’.

One major disappointment is that the Scottish Executive did not take the opportunity to ban the use of Electric Shock Collars as submitted by both the KC and SKC.

SKC has concerns regarding the worth of the consultations both written and verbal. It was not till one month after the closing date for submissions that a request was made to SKC by the Scottish Executive Bill Team for a list of dog clubs to ensure that there was full consultation with dog organisations.

In addition, SKC invited 5 MSPs to both the May and August shows in order that they may gain insight into the ‘dog perspective’. Needless to say none appeared and most failed to give us the courtesy of a reply.

This Bill largely aims at the prevention of suffering and this must be applauded though it is with some concern that we note that throughout the whole period of consultation, very few amendments have been made to the first draft despite the responses later submitted to the contrary.