Scotland raises the bar in animal welfare with 5-year prison sentences for animal cruelty


Animal abuse, neglect, and cruelty is an ongoing problem around the world. In addition to the U.S., Scotland is also the site of such crimes against cats, dogs, and other animals. And while the Scottish government has been accused of being lax on offenders in the past, only handing out 1-year maximum sentences for such abuses, that has now changed with modifications to the current law.

The Scottish Government makes a change for the better

In a bit of good news for animal lovers, the Scottish government has increased the punishment for acts of animal cruelty and abuse. Now, anyone accused of such a crime faces up to five years in prison. This new legislation is a strengthening of the previous Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in a move seen as a victor4y for animals and the ones who champion their cause. Violators of animal cruelty laws in Scotland also now face unlimited fines.

Also, animals taken into custody on welfare grounds can now be sold or rehomed without the rescue organizations and shelters needing to go to court, as was required in the past. The intent is to get these abused animals into a loving home where they can begin the healing process.

A step forward for animal rights

The law has been hailed as a step forward in dealing with animal abusers in the country. One example of the horrific abuses suffered by animals in the U.K. includes a pit bull in Northern Ireland that had to be put to sleep after acid was poured on her body by her abuser.

“We believe that this change will help protect innocent animals and act as a proper deterrent to those who abuse and mistreat animals,” a spokeswoman for animal welfare organization, Battersea, told Edinburgh News.

Finn’s Law

The law is similar to laws like Finn’s Law, which is named after police dog Finn who was stabbed while apprehending a suspect along with his handler PC Dave Wardell in Hertfordshire, England, U.K, in 2016. Seriously injured by the knife attack, Finn has gone on to be a spokes dog of sorts for the issue of cruelty against animals across the U.K.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Source: Wikimedia –

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, also commonly known as Battersea, was a big supporter of the changes. Battersea, based in London, operates all across the U.K. had this to say on the organization’s Website about the new changes.

“The Scottish Government has sent out a clear message that Scotland will not tolerate the most heinous animal cruelty crimes and will respond accordingly. We believe that this change will help protect innocent animals and act as a proper deterrent to those who abuse and mistreat animals.”

Creating the Animal Welfare Commission

In addition to the increased penalties, the Scottish Government put in place an Animal Welfare Commission comprised of experts with the goal of improving animal welfare in Scotland. It was through the commission’s efforts that changes to the old Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 were made.

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Sources: The Animal Rescue SiteThe Scotsman

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