OATA has welcomed news that the Scottish Government is to look at introducing new legislation on pet shop licensing in Scotland following a campaign by Jeremy Balfour MSP.

Mr Balfour’s office this week confirmed it has received a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham which states:

“I hereby indicate that the Scottish Government will initiate legislation, within the current session of the Parliament, to improve animal welfare by enhancing local authority pet shop licensing powers and update the licensing system currently set out in the Pet Animals Act 1951, including in relation to licence conditions, fees and inspections.”

OATA Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee said: “I’m pleased that Mr Balfour’s proposed Members Bill to look at a variety of issues relation to pet shop licensing in Scotland will now taken up by the Scottish Government within this current session of Parliament.

“For many years OATA has been calling for a common, coherent and consistent set of mandatory licensing standards for pet shops which are properly enforced by well-trained and knowledgeable local authority inspectors.

“Whilst we fully support proposals to strengthen the licensing regime in Scotland, as we have found in the English experience with Animal Activities Licensing, a good outcome will depend on the detail of what is actually proposed and care is needed to ensure any changes are applied sensibly and proportionately. We would not want to see excessive and unnecessary burdens on business that in reality contribute little or nothing to improving animal welfare.

“As this proposed legislation concentrates purely on pet shops we would expect OATA to be consulted at an early stage because, as our reports into pet shop licensing across the UK have revealed, more than 70% of the shops that require such a licence sell fish.*”

OATA will now be writing to the Cabinet Secretary to register its interest in the progress of the new legislation.

*OATA Freedom of Information report 2016 showed that in Scotland alone there were 156 licensed pet shops and 71.8% sell fish (112 shops), 57.1% sell small mammals, 44.2% sell reptiles, 41% sell birds, 4.5% sell cats (7 shops) and 3.2% sell dogs (5 shops).

If any Scottish OATA members would like to be kept in the loop about developments and input to the process please email our Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.