Scottish SPCA manifesto calls for better protections for animals - Veterinary Practice
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Scottish SPCA manifesto calls for better protections for animals

“A Better Scotland for Animals” features a series of calls to action which would dramatically improve the welfare of pets, wildlife and farm animals

The Scottish SPCA has today unveiled a manifesto for animals ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election.

“A Better Scotland for Animals” features a series of calls to action which would dramatically improve the welfare of pets, wildlife and farm animals nationwide.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity is urging candidates to improve wildlife protections, provide more support to people and pets in need, explore the potential of a national animal welfare register for cruelty offender and more.

A survey of 2,813 people carried out by ScotPulse on behalf of the Scottish SPCA shows the majority of Scots support every single item in the charity’s manifesto.

Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish SPCA, said: “This manifesto sets out a series of asks which we know will deliver real, lasting welfare improvements for pets, wildlife and farm animals.

“The overwhelming majority of Scots are animal lovers and that’s evidenced by the results of our survey, which shows many of them want to see their candidates support the items in our manifesto.

“Animal welfare transcends political views and in the run-up to the election we will be campaigning hard to get cross-party backing for our manifesto. Scotland has made great strides in animal welfare in recent years, but there’s always more we can do. It’s time to do better for animals.”

Protecting animal welfare

One of the Scottish SPCA’s calls is for a national register for people who are convicted for being cruel to animals, an initiative supported by 97 percent of Scots. Such a register would help combat the breach of bans by offenders, help link animal cruelty with other offences and ensure enforcement agencies are joined up and cross-referencing other registers with animal cruelty.

The Scottish SPCA has re-stated its stance that snares should be totally outlawed after dealing with 67 incidents involving pets and wildlife since 2019. The charity feels existing legislation does not do enough to prevent animals suffering.

Fireworks put all animals at risk due to the stress they cause. The Scottish SPCA wants to see progress made by the Fireworks Review Group set up to look at the issue last year. A report has recommended tighter restrictions and the charity wants to see the next Parliament enact these. 71 percent of Scots would welcome an increase in control over the sale of fireworks in Scotland.

The Scottish SPCA is calling for a ban of live animal exports when for fattening or slaughter. Transporting livestock “on-the-hoof” over long distances can cause unnecessary suffering. Seven out of 10 Scots disagree with the practice. The charity would also like to see a pledge to only import meat from countries which have comparable or higher animal welfare standards than Scotland.

“A Better Scotland for Animals” includes a series of demands which would better protect dogs. The Society is urging candidates to urge the UK Government to review the Dangerous Dogs Act, which is not devolved. It bans four breeds of dogs based on appearance and dictates dogs which are seized and have the characteristics of these breeds must be put to sleep, regardless of their temperament. The Scottish SPCA feels judging a dog in its appearance is wrong, and 58 percent of people agree.

The Scottish SPCA is calling for a ban on collars which give electric shocks to dogs (83 percent of Scots support). The Society wants a ban on the import of puppies under six months old to combat the rampant illicit puppy trade, after conducting over 617 investigations and taking over 1,300 calls about the trade in 2020.

Finally, the Society wants to see a ban on the import of dogs with cropped ears. A growing phenomenon, cropping a dog’s ears is a superficial procedure which actually puts a dog at risk. It is illegal in the UK and the Society – and 76 percent of Scots – feel it should be illegal to import such dogs too.

Taking care of wildlife

The Scottish SPCA is calling for greater protections for wildlife, including beavers and foxes.

The charity wants a total ban on fox-hunting and is urging candidates to review existing legislation and close any outstanding loopholes. 78 percent of Scots support a total ban on fox-hunting and 74 percent believe it should be illegal to hunt for sport. Fox-hunts still take place across the country.

The manifesto explains that in situations where beavers come into conflict with humans, such as on farmland, over five times as many are being killed rather than translocated to England. Licenses to translocate beavers, which are protected by law, to another location Scotland are not given out at the moment. That’s what the Scottish SPCA is calling for. 80 percent of Scots believe wildlife should be moved to another location when it comes into conflict with humans. In 2015, a report to the Scottish Government identified 105.586 hecatares of land in Scotland which could be suitable for beavers.

The human-animal bond

The Scottish SPCA has an industry-leading animal welfare education programme which in an average year engages with over 200,000 children and young people. Research has shown animal welfare education can improve mental health and wellbeing, increase understanding of animal sentience and decrease tolerance of animal cruelty. Now, the Scottish SPCA is calling on animal welfare education to be a compulsory part of the curriculum in schools. 86 percent of people in Scotland agree.

The education programme is part of the Scottish SPCA’s work to protect the human-animal bond. As well as investigating cruelty the charity’s inspectors work with many people to help them care for their pets properly.

Sadly, many housing associations, local authorities and private landlords do not allow pets in their properties. The Scottish SPCA is calling on the next Scottish Parliament to introduce an initiative which incentivises landlords to accommodate tenants with pets. Not allowing for such people can put those fleeing domestic abuse at risk or lead to homelessness and welfare issues for humans and animals. 77 percent of Scots believe landlords should allow people to have pets in rented homes or refuges.

Whilst animals bring great joy to people, the Scottish SPCA is also calling for mandatory guidance to be followed when animals are used for entertainment, education or as “therapets”. No such guidance is in place at the moment meaning there is no limit to how often an animal is used, how they are transported or how long they are handled for – all of which can cause welfare issues. Over 75 percent of Scots agree there should be regulations in place.

Visit the manifesto page to sign the petition and demand #BetterForAnimals.

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