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Scotland launches consultation on animal cruelty sentencing
The maximum penalty for the most serious offences could be raised from 12 months to five years.
Battersea welcomes move which could see prison sentences raised

The Scottish government has launched a consultation on proposals to increase sentencing for animal cruelty.

Proposed amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 would see the maximum penalty for the most serious offences raised from 12 months to five years, and a potential, unlimited fine.

It is hoped the changes could apply to attacks against service animals, supporting the Finn's Law initiative.

It is also hoped the changes would allow animals removed by animal welfare inspectors to be re-homed faster. This would mean that neglected or abused animals could be moved to new homes immediately, instead of being subject to lengthy stays in temporary accommodation.

Furthermore, the proposed amendments may enable authorities to issue fixed penalty notices, allowing animal welfare inspectors to better apply punishment for offences like missing documents.

“Animal welfare is a subject that I feel very passionately about so I’m delighted to be launching this consultation today,” said rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon.

“The Scottish Government is taking bold steps to try to further improve the welfare of our animals, and we believe the best way to do that is to challenge and change negative attitudes and behaviour. As such, I hope that strengthening these powers will send a strong message that such abhorrent behaviour will not be tolerated in a modern, progressive and responsible society such as Scotland.

“We want to have the highest standards of welfare for our animals, but before we introduce new legislation, it’s vital that we know what relevant stakeholders - particularly those with practical experience of animal cruelty issues.

Battersea’s director of communications Dee McIntosh welcomed the decision.

“We’re particularly pleased it includes the prospect of raising prison sentences for the most horrific cases of animal cruelty to five years,” she said. “Animal abuse knows no boundaries but Battersea is cautiously optimistic that there’s the political will in Scotland now to get tough on abusers once and for all and make the punishment fit the crime.
 
“Research shows that the prospect of longer prison sentences can indeed act as a deterrent for any would-be offender, so we look forward to working with the Government to see tougher sentences become a reality.”
 

 

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”