Concern over Scottish puppy farms sparks call for new laws

Irresponsible dog breeders could be stripped of their licences under new laws being drawn up. Picture: SSPCA
Irresponsible dog breeders could be stripped of their licences under new laws being drawn up. Picture: SSPCA
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The Scottish Government yesterday published plans for a new licensing regime for animal breeders amid concern over the welfare of young dogs sold by unlicensed puppy farms.

Ministers want to introduce new legislation aimed at strengthening and modernising the current system.

The proposals, which have been put out for consultation, come on the back of reports of breeders using premises considered unsafe, unsanitary or unsuitable. Other concerns include include too many animals ending up in breeding rooms, offspring being separated from their mothers too early and females being bred too frequently.

The government’s proposals include lowering the threshold at which any dog breeding establishment needs to be licensed, and extending the new threshold to cover cats and rabbits. Currently breeders producing five or more litters per year have to be licensed. Under the proposal, establishments producing three or more litters would have to be licensed. Other recommendations include discouraging breeding of dogs, cats and rabbits with a genetic predisposition for conditions which lead to health problems later in life. Ministers also propose the introduction of the independent accreditation of applicants through industry bodies, in order to reduce the burden on local authorities.

Accredited breeders would still require to be licensed by councils, but could then expect a reduced frequency of local authority inspection.

In addition to taking into account certification by other bodies, they also want to see “greater risk-based assessment used in inspection and enforcement activities for all licensed establishments”.

Rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said: “We’re going to be introducing that legislation soon but before we do so, we want to hear people’s feedback on our proposals to enhance our ability to deal with cases where an animal’s welfare is at risk, whilst creating a system that doesn’t add to the burden of organisations like the Scottish SPCA and our local authorities, or indeed to those breeders who already work to a high standard.”

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said she looked forward to the changes being made.