October 28, 2023

Developments in Animal Welfare Law in Scotland 2023

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

In 1850, Victorian legislators judged it “expedient to prevent wanton Cruelty in the Treatment of Horses, Cattle, and other domestic Animals, in Scotland”.  Among other things, the Act for the more effectual prevention of cruelty to animals in Scotland outlawed practices that were still common at the time – such as beating animals or organising bull baiting and cock fighting – and brought in licences to improve the treatment of horses at slaughter.  

Animal welfare law in Scotland has come a long way since those first, limited steps.  Recent years have seen important milestones along the road to more comprehensive protection for animals, largely underpinned by a greater recognition of animal sentience. 

The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 replaced antiquated early 20th-century legislation, placing a statutory duty of care on persons responsible for animals’ welfare.  Further legislation in 2020 updated the Act and improved protection for wild animals, whose welfare needs have historically been largely overlooked. 

Also in 2020, the Scottish Ministers appointed a Scottish Animal Welfare Commission to review how the welfare needs of sentient animals are being met by devolved policy and to advise on routes to further protection. 

Breeding, selling and rehoming companion animals were reformed by new licensing measures introduced in 2021, and these will soon be augmented by a major suite of new regulations covering businesses providing dog walking, dog grooming, livery services and canine fertility services.  There are also proposals to license greyhound racing in Scotland and to update existing licensing requirements for animal boarding (including day care) and riding establishments.

If you are interested in animals, in the law or – better still – in both, please join us for a lunchtime seminar in Edinburgh on Saturday 28 October.  The agenda will include: 

·      Introduction to A-LAW

·      Round up of recent animal welfare legislation

·      New licensing measures to protect animals

·      Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023

·      Scottish Animal Welfare Commission

·      Questions and discussion