Is the exotic pet trade facing a change? Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, has committed to a review of the trade and importations of exotic animals for the pet industry in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has announced that Mr Lochhead plans to explore the effects of tighter controls on exotic pet ownership. The decision follows discussions between the Cabinet Secretary and animal welfare charity OneKind.

The review is likely be included within a larger project which will address the breeding and sale of animals for the pet trade in Scotland.

Mr Lochhead said: ‘There is an increasing desire across Europe, including in Scotland, to keep exotic pets. There are potential threats to animal health and welfare, human health and our native species that accompany this trend and merit serious investigation.’ (Full statement here).

Mixed Reactions
A number of leading members of the pet trade have voiced fears that restrictions resulting from a review could unnecessarily impact upon a much-loved pastime.

Organisations OATA and REPTA hope to meet the Scottish Government to challenge its plans. They believe people may be prevented from keeping ornamental fish and reptiles across the border.
‘It seems our concerns behind the Hands Off My Hobby campaign – relaunched just four weeks ago – is coming true already,’ said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

‘We warned that animal campaign groups had this hobby in their sights and it looks as if they have persuaded the Scottish Government to take the lead on limiting the species that people can keep as pets, including ornamental fish and reptiles.’ (Full statement here.)

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has taken the opposite view. Key members, including BVA President John Blackwell, have supported Mr Lochhead’s aims.

Ronnie Soutar, President of BVA Scottish Branch, said: ‘We welcome the review’s emphasis on the proper and responsible trade of these animals, particularly when animals are traded via the internet.

‘As the popularity of exotic pets increases across Scotland, we want owners and potential owners to fully understand the welfare needs of these animals and their responsibilities as owners. We must also ensure that we take full account of the potential impact of these animals on Scotland’s own native species and the environment.’ (More from the BVA.)

Are you a member of the pet trade? Let Pet Gazette know your views of the proposed review on twitter @PetGazette.

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