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Protecting animal welfare

Published: 4 Oct 2016 15:51

Environment Secretary outlines new measures.

Tough new regulations on the use of electronic training collars for animals will be introduced in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced today.

To help prevent animal suffering the use of electric pulse, sonic and spray collars will be prohibited, unless under the guidance of an approved trainer or vet.

Setting out a number of measures to improve and protect animal welfare legislation, Ms Cunningham also confirmed:

  • Legislation will be changed to permit the shortening of the tails of Spaniel and Hunt Point Retriever puppies where a vet believes they are likely to be for use as a working dog and risk serious tail injury in later life.

  • A Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses will be introduced in May 2017 for implementation in 2018.

  • A consultation on the offences and penalties under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 will be held in due course.

Ms Cunningham said:

"Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and we take the welfare of our pets, animals and livestock very seriously.

"We have consulted extensively on a number of issues and we will now improve our legislation by regulating the use of electronic training collars. There is evidence that these devices can cause suffering so they will only be permitted for use as a last resort and under the guidance of an approved trainer or vet.

"Similarly, we have seen evidence that some working dogs are suffering tail injuries so I have decided to allow vets to shorten the tails of Spaniel and Hunt Point Retriever puppies where they believe it will prevent future injuries amongst working dogs.

"We will also ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, which is widely considered to be morally unacceptable in the present day, and undertake a full review of penalties under existing animal health and welfare legislation. I believe this package of measures will improve the protection given to the welfare of animals in Scotland over the coming months and years."

Background

The Scottish Government has published an analysis of the responses to the tail docking consultation. It is available from http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/10/6117

The Scottish Government has decided to allow the use of electronic training collars only under the guidance of an authorised person, rather than implement an outright ban. This is because there is no documented evidence of deliberate abuse of collars on animals in Scotland and there are examples of use in certain circumstances to benefit the welfare of some animals. SSPCA received 23 complaints between 2011 and 2014 about electronic collars, all were investigated and advice given, but SSPCA considered no further action.