Court cases cost SSPCA £650,000

New data has shown the Scottish SPCA provided temporary refuge to over 1,700 animals in 2019 at a cost of more than £650,000.

It is hoped new legislation will avoid leaving animals in limbo.
It is hoped new legislation will avoid leaving animals in limbo.

Temporary refuge is when the society cares for an animal seized on welfare grounds, often pending the result of legal proceedings.

Under current law, an animal cannot be rehomed with a court order unless the owner signs it over into the care of the Scottish SPCA.

The average time spent in care for an animal caught up in a court case is 203 days.

Scotland’s national animal welfare charity has revealed the massive costs of caring for animals caught up in court cases.

However, a new Bill proposes allowing animals in temporary refuge to be rehomed after three weeks, subject to veterinary advice without the need for a court order.

Other proposed changes include increasing the maximum possible sentence for the worst acts of animal cruelty from one year to five and an unlimited fine.

Plus there’s Finn’s Law, which would introduce better protections for service animals in Scotland.

Animal welfare is devolved in Scotland and the Scottish SPCA, which is entirely separate from the RSPCA who operate in England and Wales only, has previously highlighted the inconsistency in sentences for cruelty offences as a major enforcement issue.

Scottish SPCA chief executive Kirsteen Campbell said: “The Scottish SPCA has led calls for improvements to legislation for a number of years.

“We have spent over £2m providing temporary refuge to animals since 2016 and the new legislation would bring a massive cost saving for us.

“More importantly, it would allow us to avoid leaving animals involved in legal proceedings in limbo at our rescue centres, instead being able to rehome them within a few weeks.”