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Coronavirus: Scottish SPCA preparing for ‘big influx’ of abandoned lockdown pets as dog cruelty figures released

A German Shepherd puppy.
A German Shepherd puppy.

Scotland’s leading animal welfare charity is preparing itself for a “big influx” of abandoned lockdown pets in 2021.

SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the charity is preparing itself for a rise in the number of unwanted animals, especially dogs, as more workers return to the office in 2021.

He said: “It’s the old Dog’s Trust thing – a dog’s not just for Christmas, it’s not just for lockdown either.

“Once things do return to the new normal, we’re expecting a big influx of animals people have bought going back to last April.”

“A dog is going to be a year old by the time it’s left totally alone in the house. It’s not going to have known any time when there wasn’t someone available 24 hours a day.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn.

“So that’s when you’ll start getting all the behavioural problems. These include dogs damaging the house and all that. That’s normally what you see at the end of January and February from the Christmas pups.”

He said anyone with concerns about the welfare of an animal should call the charity’s investigators on 0300 099 9999.

Dog cruelty reports up

Mr Flynn’s comments come as two sets of figures revealed the number of reports of dog cruelty in Dundee and Angus.

He said the SSPCA had investigated 60 cases in Dundee, and 54 in Angus, in 2020. That is up on 46 complaints in each area the previous year.

Cases ranged from dogs being left unattended during the day to animals being physically abused.

Officers from Police Scotland received 35 reports of cruelty to animals last year – 14 in Angus and 21 in the city, according to figures released under freedom of information powers.

All Dundee reports and the majority in Angus related to dogs.

Chief superintendent Flynn said: “With people being at home, there’s been a wide spike in people overfeeding their animals. You’re getting a lot more obese animals being reported. We deal with that through advice,” he said.

“Then you get the extreme cruelty where someone is intentionally beating their animal or abandoning it.”

Maurice Golden MSP

‘Alarming’ level of cruelty

The Scottish Parliament passed the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act this year – giving courts the ability to impose unlimited fines and jail sentences of up to five years for the worst cases of animal cruelty.

Conservative north east MSP Maurice Golden spoke out over the “alarming” number of mistreated animals in the region.

He said: “Increased sentencing powers will not only ensure those guilty of this are punished severely, but it should also deter others from embarking on this behaviour.

“Additionally, fixed-penalty notices will give authorities a greater degree of flexibility to determine punishments,” he added.

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