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Illegal Puppy Trade

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its work to tackle the illegal puppy trade. (S5O-02662)

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

U nder a commitment in our programme for government, we are currently investing £300,000 to work with charities and enforcement agencies on a communications campaign on the risks of buying puppies that are advertised online and on rehoming dogs that have been supplied from abroad. I reinforce that message, which is pretty much, “If there is no mum and no paperwork, walk away.” Cinema and media advertisements will run until 8 December 2018, and the effectiveness of the campaign in reducing public demand for illegally traded puppies will then be evaluated. I thank Emma Harper for all the work that she has done on the issue, which she has continued to raise, highlight and campaign on.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

I am pleased to hear the minister acknowledge my work on tackling the illegal puppy trade over the past two years. Has the Scottish Government carried out any assessment of the impact of Brexit on the illegal puppy trade, particularly through the port of Cairnryan in my South Scotland region?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

As all members across the chamber will be acutely aware, Brexit is potentially only a few months away and there is still much uncertainty as to what that is going to mean right across our society and in different businesses and organisations including our ports. However, I can say that the Scottish Government will continue to be vigilant when it comes to any illegal activity, including the illegal puppy trade, and we will continue in all our work and efforts to tackle that trade.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

There is an ever-increasing awareness of the link between puppy farming and organised crime. Instead of having £20,000-worth of drugs in their van, a criminal today may have £20,000-worth of puppies. A drug seizure of that kind could result in a lengthy jail sentence, but a puppy seizure would not. Will the minister advise whether the Government plans to increase the length of jail sentences and/or expedite court hearings in cases of animal welfare, particularly in instances of puppy breeding and smuggling?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

A number of measures were announced as part of the programme for government this year, and I confirm that such measures will be actively considered.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

The minister will be aware that my consultation on responsible dog ownership for the proposed responsible breeding and ownership of dogs (Scotland) bill has concluded. Will the minister meet me to discuss how the proposed bill may curtail the cruel activities of puppy factory farms?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

Absolutely, and I am more than happy to meet the member to discuss the proposed bill.