The Kennel Club, has welcomed the news that The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill has become law upon receiving Royal Assent after it received cross party support in the Scottish Parliament.
As well as raising the maximum sentence for animal cruelty in Scotland to up to five years, the bill also ensures that the government reviews the current legislation on electric shock collars and pet theft before 1st April 2025, thanks to an amendment tabled by Maurice Golden MSP and accepted by MSPs.
Holly Conway, head of public affairs at the Kennel Club said: “We welcome this as a major step forward for dog welfare in Scotland. It is vital that cruelty towards animals is punished with the full force of the law as a means of deterrent and delivering justice. Scotland has led the way in doing so, and we very much hope that England and Wales will soon follow suit.
“We are confident that the review into pet theft legislation will similarly result in tougher sentencing in order to reflect the emotional impact that it brings, which far exceeds any financial loss.”
She added: “Both veterinarian bodies and welfare organisations, including the Kennel Club, have long campaigned for a ban on electric shock collars and this is a significant move in the right direction. We hope that the review will ensure real changes are made and the welfare of dogs is improved.”
The news comes as animal charity, Battersea, praised the Scottish Government and MSPs from across parliament for delivering on their “promise” to increase maximum sentences for the worst animal cruelty offences from 12 months to five years.
Battersea revealed In England and Wales, the maximum punishment is the lowest in Europe at just six months and said the Westminster Bill has been “postponed yet again; despite the government first pledging its support almost three years ago”.
Battersea’s chief executive, Claire Horton, said: “We’re thrilled to see this Bill make such quick progress. The Scottish Government has sent out a clear message that Scotland will not tolerate the most heinous animal cruelty crimes and will respond accordingly.
“This change in law will protect innocent animals and act as a proper deterrent to those who abuse and mistreat animals.”