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MSP relaunches dog welfare Bill aimed at tackling puppy farms

A dog welfare Bill is being reintroduced at Holyrood (Scottish SPCA)
A dog welfare Bill is being reintroduced at Holyrood (Scottish SPCA)

An MSP is relaunching a private member’s Bill aimed at tackling the growth of puppy farming and unlicensed breeding.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame is bringing the Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill back to Holyrood.

It was first introduced in the last session of the Scottish Parliament, but there was insufficient parliamentary time for it to proceed before the last election.

Ms Grahame said there had been a boom in people trying to acquire puppies during the pandemic, with the demand being exploited by unscrupulous breeders.

First Minster’s Questions
Christine Grahame said the Bill was even more important after the onset of the pandemic (Fraser Bremner)

She said: “I am pleased to be proposing this Bill again as it is possibly even more important now than it was before the pandemic.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of people acquire dogs, and whilst many of these animals have become much loved family pets, some people rushed into this decision without thinking about how they would care for the dogs in the long term and the extent of the commitment.

“Alongside that, this surge in demand has led to a rise in puppy factory farms (often linked to organised crime), online sales and unscrupulous breeders who prey on people who are unaware of the source of the puppies.”

The Bill would strengthen regulations around the sale and breeding of dogs.

Puppy farm raid
The Scottish SPCA said there had been a rise in low-welfare dealers (Scottish SPCA)

Ms Grahame continued: “Acquiring a dog is never something that should be entered into lightly, it is a serious commitment that prospective owners should take their time to research, plan and understand.

“We have a duty to these animals to give them the best life we can for potentially over a decade and be rewarded by that wonderful relationship between a dog and its owner.

“I hope my proposed bill will go some way to supporting prospective owners to make the right decisions around this and to put puppy farms out of business.”

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said he fully supported the Bill.

He said: “Since March 2020 we have seen a rise in dog ownership and subsequently an increase in low-welfare puppy dealers importing puppies and selling pups online.

“Puppies coming from the low-welfare puppy trade are bred for profit and no thought is given to the welfare of the pups or dogs involved.

“1,059 calls were made to our animal helpline in 2021 regarding low-welfare puppy breeding.

“This is compared to 702 calls in 2020, meaning a 34% increase in just a year.”