Pretty pug Bella has helped lead the way for new legislation to prevent puppy farming.
The 17-week-old puppy, who started life in the hands of an unlicensed dealer, has been rehomed and charmed rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon as she outlined licensing changes proposed by the Scottish Government.
Scotland’s puppy trade is worth an estimated £13 million annually but some are bred in so-called puppy farms in poor conditions and poor health.
The government has launched a consultation on plans to modernise outdated regulations, which would also apply to cat and rabbit breeding.
New laws will require breeders producing three or more litters a year to be licensed and would limit the number of breeding dogs which can kept at one site to 20.
At the Scottish SPCA’s office in Dunfermline, Ms Gougeon said the change in legislation would better ensure the welfare of domestic animals.
She said: “Scotland loves animals and the Scottish Government is working to ensure that our animals are subject to the highest levels of care and welfare.
“We are absolutely committed to introducing legislation that’s based on up-to-date scientific research and advice, and is fit for purpose for a modern Scotland.
“We’re going to be introducing that legislation soon but before we do so, we want to hear people’s feedback on our proposals to enhance our ability to deal with cases where an animal’s welfare is at risk, whilst creating a system that doesn’t add to the burden of organisations like the Scottish SPCA and our local authorities or, indeed, to those breeders who already work to a high standard.”
The Scottish SPCA has been campaigning against puppy farms.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are thrilled to see that the Scottish Government has issued a consultation to amend the licensing of dog, cat and rabbit breeding activities.
“We feel that the current regulations in Scotland are outdated and that more can be done to help protect animal welfare.
“Over the past year we have been raising awareness of the barbaric puppy trade in Scotland through our #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign.
“We hope that the Scottish Government, along with proposed members bills put forward by MSPs will help end this cruel industry.”
The changes to legislation reduce the threshold at which breeders require a licence from five to three litters a year.
When granting licences local authorities will have to be satisfied animals are kept in appropriate accommodation and provided with appropriate whelping facilities and suitable food, drink and bedding.
A growth in demand for designers dogs with a particular look or shape has also prompted the government to prohibit breeding practices likely to cause suffering in later life.
The consultation runs until November 30.