SCOTLAND has seen a 44 percent increase in animals seized as a result of animal cruelty investigations.
The Scottish SPCA revealed almost half of the 302 animals taken in 2017 were victims of the illegal puppy trade.
Chief Executive Kirsteen Campbell said, “Overall, 52 people were banned from owning animals last year following our investigations.
“That’s an average of one every week, with many of these animals having suffered in the most appalling conditions.
“The illegal puppy trade remains a major concern, with 143 of the record 302 animals seized by our inspectors and undercover special investigations unit last year rescued from dealers who treat dogs as nothing more than commodities.
“Furthermore, we prevented an additional 75 puppies involved in the illegal puppy trade entering Scotland via Cairnryan Port from Ireland. We work closely with our sister organisation the ISPCA, to ensure these pups receive the highest possible care and are happily rehomed in Ireland.
“This situation simply cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we have welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase potential penalties for animal welfare offences, to tackle illegal puppy dealing and licence animal sanctuaries.”
The charity has called for court cases involving animals held as evidence while their owners await any further action to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
“Animal cruelty cases can often take years to be heard in court,” said Mrs Campbell.
“This is a real issue and the reason why we had more than 1,000 animals in our care in 2017 with no home to go to because their owners had not yet faced trial.
“First and foremost this not good for animal welfare, it is also entirely at our expense and we would like to see these types of cases being heard in court sooner.
“Our dedicated and expert animal rescue and rehoming staff ensure that all the animals in our care receive the love, attention and veterinary treatment they need while they await their forever homes.”
In 2017 the Scottish SPCA frontline staff responded to over 89,500 incidents as a result of calls to their animal helpline.
The charity believes its education programme is the key to preventing and deterring animal cruelty.
“It is only right that we have strong deterrents to animal cruelty in Scotland,” said Mrs Campbell.
“However, we firmly believe that education is the key to preventing cruelty and we are encouraged by the continued success of our Prevention through Education programme for primary schools, which reached over 275,000 children last year.
“Our inspectors and animal rescue officers also go above and beyond in communities throughout the country, working with members of the public, giving advice, providing support and offering assistance where possible.
“2017 saw the launch of our Animal Guardians programme which recognises the link between animal cruelty and violent crime and will see our Society help children who have abused, or have been identified as having the potential to abuse animals.”