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Conservatives launch bid for new pet shop law to protect animals

Jeremy Balfour MSP has launched a consultation for a member’s bill to upgrade ‘outdated’ law on selling animals in pet shops.

Animals sold in pet shops need better protection as the current law is “outdated and failing”, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Jeremy Balfour has launched a consultation on a member’s bill to bring in a stricter licensing scheme for pet shops.

The Conservative MSP highlighted research from animal charity Blue Cross indicating the current legislation governing pet shops dates from 1951 and is outdated, leading to a lack of consistency.

The member’s bill aims to address what are seen as weaknesses in the law, including an inability for councils to revoke a licence, no guidance on licence fees which range from £23 to £380 across Scottish local authorities, and inconsistency in inspections.

Mr Balfour said: “With animal welfare being a fully devolved issue, the Scottish Parliament has a real opportunity to improve the lives of pets and pet owners across Scotland.

“Current legislation governing the sale of pets is outdated and failing to protect animals or pet owners.

“This legislation will ensure our system is sufficiently robust to protect animal welfare and enable the public to buy with confidence, safe in the knowledge that the pet shop they are buying from is a reputable, licensed establishment which has been subject to a stringent licensing process.”

In his consultation document, he said the proposed bill does not intend to “hamper” the pet trade but to ensure animal welfare needs are met.

Blue Cross and industry body the Pet Industry Federation have backed the planned bill.

Pet Industry Federation chief executive officer Nigel Baker said: “The legislation is in urgent need of an overhaul in order to safeguard animal welfare and ensure that standards of licensing and inspection are applied and enforced consistently across Scotland.”

Becky Thwaites, head of public affairs at Blue Cross welcomed the Conservative bid to bring the legislation up to date.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are already implementing an ambitious package of measures designed to improve animal welfare.

“This includes preparing legislation for a modern system of regulation of animal sanctuaries which can be applied to other areas in future and preparing to increase maximum penalties for offences against animal welfare.

“However, there is always more work to be done and we acknowledge that the Pet Animals Act of 1951 is in need of review. Scottish Government officials have already met Mr Balfour to discuss his plans and will continue to engage constructively.”

Press Association

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