New Animal Welfare Bill will also implement Finn’s Law
Prison sentences for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences have been increased in Scotland from 12 months to five years.
Announced as part of the new Animal and Wildlife Bill, the move will also see the introduction of Finns’ Law in Scotland, giving greater protection for service animals by preventing those who attack them from claiming self-defence.
“We want to continue to have the highest standards of welfare for our animals and to have the most robust and proportionate penalties available,” said Scotland’s rural affairs minister, Mairi Gougeon.
“Through increasing the maximum penalties available for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences, we are ensuring that those who carry out these heinous acts will rightly face the full force of the law, as and where appropriate.”
She continued: “We also want to see more protection given to service animals such as police dogs and horses, so we will be enacting what has become known as Finn’s law. I believe it is only right that animals which work to keep us safe should be given the fullest protection we can give them in return.
“Animal welfare is a subject I feel very passionately about, and call on stakeholders and parliament to support these bold steps to further improve Scotland’s high animal welfare standards.”
Scottish SPCA chief executive Kirsteen Campbell welcomed the move, adding: “These exciting changes have the potential to be transformational for animals across the country and the Scottish SPCA.
“The power to re-home animals without a court order would be of massive benefit to their welfare. All receive incredible care from our expert teams, but this is no substitute for a loving home,” she said.
“Prosecution is a last resort for the Society, but we have long felt the penalties for animal cruelty are too lenient and inconsistent. We hope increasing the options available to Sheriffs will lead to fewer people mistreating animals in the first place.”