Blue Cross brings together MSPs and Scottish Government to discuss new licensing system plans

Posted On: 
19th September 2017

Blue Cross has long argued for a more effective licensing system for pets bred and sold across Scotland.

Blue Cross

Too many animals suffer as a result of ineffective legislation and a lack of enforcement. The recent announcement by the Scottish Government which sets out plans to improve the current system is a positive step forward and has been welcomed by animal charities across Scotland.

The pet charity will bring together MSPs, representatives from local authorities, Scottish Government, animal welfare charities and trade bodies to discuss how they move forward with the Government’s proposals at the Scottish Parliament on September 21.

It follows Blue Cross meeting with members from across the political spectrum in Scotland to discuss the charity’s report Unpicking the Knots and their recommendations for a new registration and licensing system for breeders and sellers in light of the shocking findings of their research.

The UK-wide report found:

  • Local authorities struggling to cope with enforcing welfare standards for pet shops and dog breeders with the resources and training available to them. 
  • A third of licensing officers told the charity they had received no formal training in animal welfare.
  • Inspection reports noted exotic birds kept in small cages and turtles kept in inappropriate enclosures in pet shops in Scotland
  • Nearly half of all Scottish local authorities carried out no investigations into suspected unlicensed premises in 2015

Blue Cross also found many animals are slipping under the radar entirely as a result of the rapidly growing unlicensed online pet trade, with unscrupulous breeders making thousands of pounds while putting pets and consumers at risk across Scotland. Blue Cross has looked at evidence of large scale online puppy sellers and calculations show that one of these sellers, operating out of Scotland could be making potential untaxed profits of between £60,200 and £240,800  over 12 months by selling puppies without any regard for welfare or accountability to buyers.

Becky Thwaites, Blue Cross Head of Public Affairs, said: “At Blue Cross we regularly see seriously ill pets and their devastated new owners - victims of unscrupulous breeders and sellers who prioritise profit over welfare.

“A lack of standardised inspection procedures or training for licensing officers combined with budget cuts means that many local authorities in Scotland are struggling to cope.

  • We had such a positive response from the MSPs we’ve met with this year and we’re happy to be returning to Scotland to bring everyone together to discuss how we move forward now the Scottish Government has outlined its plans to take forward some of our recommendations for an updated registration and licensing system for breeders and sellers.”

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s programme for 2018, MSP Maurice Golden said: “I’m pleased to see the Scottish Government taking up Blue Cross’s recommendations for a new registration and licensing system.

“We need to take action urgently to create a robust regime that empowers local authorities to enforce welfare laws to protect our pets. Those on the frontline are often working with outdated legislation. This combined with a lack of funding and resource can make their jobs extremely difficult. Enforcers not only need legislation fit for purpose but also require the necessary tools to better protect the welfare of animals.”

Tips on getting a healthy new pet:

Blue Cross would always urge people to consider rehoming a pet from an animal welfare charity rather than purchasing one online.

We would always advise people to thoroughly do their research before getting a pet and always ensure they see the pet with its mother if it’s a puppy or kitten.

If looking for a pet online, it is important to check the advert, looking out for suspicious signs that may indicate the advert is from an unlicensed dealer.

Signs include:

  • Repeat contact numbers on multiple adverts
  • The same image for an animal used in multiple adverts
  • Animals advertised as sold with a ‘pet passport’
  • Always remember that ‘free insurance’, ‘KC registered’ and ‘puppy packs’ are not always an indicator of a responsible seller
  • Doubts over seller instructions i.e. individual suggests meeting somewhere other than a home address