Some 96.8% of 659 respondents backed a government consultation regarding its proposal to introduce new regulations for the licensing of dog, cat and rabbit breeding activities.
The breeding of cats and rabbits in Scotland is currently unregulated and under the regulations an individual who sells or acquires a cat or dog at less than 84 days old, with a view to sell requires an animal dealing licence. The dealing of young rabbits is currently unregulated.
The consultation covered proposals to update the minimum legal requirements for dog, cat and rabbit breeding activities based on current scientific and technical evidence on animal health and welfare.
Among those in favour of the Scottish government’s proposal, the common reason cited was to improve welfare by “reducing the number of high-volume, low-welfare breeders suspected of putting maximisation of profit ahead of animal welfare concerns”.
A large number of respondents also noted that a reduction in the number of low-welfare breeders would reduce the number of animals being sold with a predisposition to genetic disorders and conformational concerns.
Another frequently raised point was that a reduction in the number of animals being bred without proper concern for their welfare would reduce the financial and logistical burden on animal welfare charities and animal rescue centres; and would increase demand for rescue animals allowing greater numbers to be successfully rehomed.
The 3.2% who were not in favour of the proposal were concerned that the regulation would do little to “restrict the activities of unscrupulous breeders” and place additional burdens on law-abiding breeders with no positive effect on animal welfare standards.
Of the 617 respondents to a question regarding a licensing threshold for dog, cat and rabbit breeders at three or more litters a year, 42.8% were in favour of the Scottish government’s proposal to set the licensing threshold for dog, cat and rabbit breeders at three or more litters a year with 57.2% of the respondents against the proposed licensing threshold.
When asked if a breeding dog, cat or rabbit should not give birth to more than six litters in their lifetime, of the 634 respondents to this question, 71.3% agreed. They went on to say it could be amended to an upper limit of four litters for dogs on welfare grounds in line with the standards required by the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme.
However, some concerns were expressed that regulating for a lower upper threshold for litters in a breeding mothers’ lifetime could lead to breeding females being disposed of at an unduly young age.
Some 49.8% of 606 respondents favoured the proposal that, as a condition of licensing, premises should only be allowed a maximum of 20 breeding dogs or cats within one calendar year.
Rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said: “We love our pets in Scotland, so it is no surprise that so many people are in favour of our proposals to further protect the welfare of cats, dogs and rabbits.
“The aim is to modernise the whole licensing process – making it less onerous on those organisations already doing the right thing and, most importantly, ensuring that the system is centred around the welfare of animals. The Scottish government will now work with local authorities, welfare organisations and individuals to bring these regulations forward.”