Irresponsible dog breeders found to be mistreating animals in Scotland could be stripped of their licences under new laws being drawn up, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has said.
A national register of dog breeders could also be introduced as part of a drive to address the way some breeders operate, Holyrood’s public petitions committee was told.
It comes amid growing public concerns about the treatment of puppies and their mothers by some breeders. It included shocking footage of Furnish Kennels in Northern Ireland which emerged three years ago which showed “industrial scale” breeding and was branded “barbaric” by Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas.
Ms Cunningham said yesterday that new laws are on the way which will see the creation of a “modern system of registration” of animal sanctuaries and rehoming activities in Scotland.
“Officials are drafting legislation which will include principles, for example the ability for local authorities to vary, suspend or revoke licences,” Ms Cunningham said.
It will also include a “risk-based frequency” of inspections by a third party and setting consistent fees to allow cost recognition.
The minister added: “There’s going to be a detailed requirement for licence holders to follow specific guidance on how to care for animals.”
Ms Cunningham also told MSPs that a national register was also under consideration by ministers.
“We haven’t ruled out a national register,” she added.
“We’re looking at whether setting a national register up is going to be practical.”
Ms Cunningham said it could include a “unique breeder” identification, although dogs are required to have a unique microchip id fitted already.
“Setting up a national register would take some consideration because you have to think through how you would manage that going forward,” she added.
“It would allow ease of access to information.”
MSPs were considering a petition calling for Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to investigate what action it can take to address the farming and illegal transportation of puppies which has lodged at Holyrood by Eileen Bryant.
It indicates that there are 132 licenced breeders in Scotland.
The RSPCA has raised a number of welfare issues in response to the rise of growing demand for “designer dogs” among the public in the UK with dogs bred in detrimental conditions. This includes bitches being bred so often that it affects their wellbeing and pups being separated from their mothers too early, resulting in poor physical and mental health.
The HMRC is also adopting the “Al Capone approach” to targeting the undeclared income of breeders.
The cabinet Secretary added: “That’s perhaps coming at it from a different angle but looks quite a fruitful way of tackling some of the issues, because it is about money, this whole thing.”