SNP MSP Stuart McMillan has welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has pledged to re-evaluate animal protection laws following a local campaign to alter the legislation.
The Greenock Telegraph took its Justice for Pets campaign in June to the Scottish Parliament in a bid to alter the legislation after it was revealed a man suspected of bludgeoning defenceless animals to death with a golf club at the Gourock Bunny Park would not face justice due to a time bar loophole in Scottish animal welfare legislation. Richard Lochhead, Holyrood’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, gave assurances after meeting with Greenock Telegraph editor Brian Hossack and reporter David Goodwin, where he was presented with a petition signed by more than 5,000 readers
The Minister has now promised to “seriously consider” the Telegraph’s call for a change to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006 prevents people accused of such offences from being pursued after six months has passed.
Mr Lochhead said: “I very much appreciate and understand the outcry amongst the public of Inverclyde — and indeed outwith the area — given the background to this particularly horrible case.
“I can very much understand why people would feel strongly in this case and it does merit a serious look at whether there should be a re-categorisation so that such offences may not be subject to the six-month time bar in the future. This could be an example of where the legislation has not caught up and it may be time for a review of the categorisations.”
Telegraph editor Brian Hossack said: “This was a fantastic result after months of hard work by the Greenock Telegraph team. To take a campaign all the way to the Scottish Parliament and win an assurance from a Government Minister that the law will be reviewed is tremendous.”
From left, MSP Stuart McMillan, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead, Telegraph reporter David Goodwin and MSP Duncan McNeil
Stuart McMillan MSP said:
“The response from the Scottish Government today is encouraging and shows again that we have a government which considers the views of local people. I personally wrote to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson about this issue, and I welcome the news that the rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead has promised to review the existing animal welfare legislation. I sincerely hope that the necessary amendments are made to the existing law.
“The attack on the Gourock petting zoo was reprehensible and outraged the whole community. I commend the Greenock Telegraph for their successful Justice for Pets Campaign, and the subsequent response from the general public, which has been absolutely fantastic.”