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SKC and the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals

There has been a great deal of speculation and scaremongering recently in the Scottish press regarding consultations between DEFRA and SEERAD (the Scottish equivalent) about the UK ‘possibly’ signing up to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals initially formulated by the Council of Europe, writes Jean Fairlie.

This Council of Europe, a self-appointed group which has no connection to the European Union, constructed the details of the Convention some 20 years ago.

As Animal Welfare is an issue devolved to the Scottish Parliament, both Parliaments must agree whether or not to sign. Many will be aware that there has recently been an election in Scotland and, as yet, no Minister for the Environment has been appointed. Therefore, at this point, no consultations are taking place.

The SKC Parliamentary Liaison Officer recently participated in a radio discussion with a spokesperson from Advocates for Animals on the issues raised by the Convention. It was important to emphasise the great strides made by the KC in acknowledging health issues, initiating health screening, altering breed standards, issuing guidance to judges to be aware of health issues when placing dogs and the launching of the Accredited Breeders Scheme. This out-of-date Convention does not take account any of these measures.

SKC has been in communication with a senior member within SEERAD who has assured us that ‘this whole issue has not been considered by Ministers and it will not be considered by them until we have a new Minister after the election. As this will not be his or her top priority, it may be some time before the UK announce a view on whether to sign, state that they will not sign or intend to consult on whether to sign or not.’

It should also be remembered that the Council of Europe has no legislative powers and can only issue guidelines. That said, SKC will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the voice of pedigree dogs will be heard within the new Scottish Parliament.