Renfrewshire MSP Tom Arthur has backed new legislation aiming to strengthen animal cruelty penalties and improve powers for front-line enforcement agencies.
The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill will increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences to five years and increase the maximum penalties for various other offences.
The Bill will implement ‘Finn’s Law’, giving extra protection to service animals, and provide a process to allow animals that have been taken into possession on welfare grounds to be sold or rehomed quickly without the need for a court order.
Tom Arthur, SNP MSP for Renfrewshire South, said: “I am happy to support the bold steps outlined in this Bill, which will further improve Scotland’s high animal welfare standards, both in terms of protection available for animals and the enforcement of penalties for offences.
“More robust and proportionate penalties for serious offences will ensure that those guilty of these heinous acts will rightly face the full force of the law.
“The introduction of Finn’s Law will provide more protection to service animals such as police dogs and horses, as it is only right that animals working to keep us safe receive the fullest protection in return.”
Kirsteen Campbell, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA, added: “These exciting changes have the potential to be transformational for animals across the country and the Scottish SPCA.
“The power to rehome animals without a court order would be of massive benefit to their welfare. All receive incredible care from our expert team, but this is no substitute for a loving home.
“Prosecution is a last resort for the Society, but we have long felt the penalties for animal cruelty are too lenient and inconsistent. We hope increasing the options available to Sheriffs will lead to fewer people mistreating animals in the first place.”