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NEW POWERS TO TACKLE ILLEGAL DOG FIGHTING

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Tough new powers relating to all aspects of illegal dog fights in Scotland have been announced....
Tough new powers relating to all aspects of illegal dog fights in Scotland have been announced.

The proposals will make it an offence to make, show or distribute film of animal fighting in the UK. Offenders will also face increased fines and prison sentences under the plans.

Environment and Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie revealed the changes to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill today and said they will put an end to criminals profiting from films to make money out of promoting illegal fights and gambling. He said:

'We are committed to reducing the needless suffering of all animals in Scotland and to protecting animals from one of the most shocking acts of cruelty.

'The act of dog fighting is already illegal, and these tough new powers will give us the tools we need to punish those responsible for this vicious crime by increasing the maximum penalty for the worst cases of animal abuse to twenty thousand pounds and or twelve months imprisonment.'

Kay Driver, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA commented:

'Organised dog fighting is one of the most abhorrent acts of premeditated animal cruelty. The offenders operate within an underground network and we know the fights are often filmed to be 'enjoyed' later and to also highlight the aggression of individual dogs.

'The proposals announced today will assist greatly in cracking down on this most barbaric crime and will create another route to bring the perpetrators to justice.'

The Executive's response to the Environment and Rural Development Committee's Stage 1 report on the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill was published yesterday.

The Stage 1 debate on the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill will be held tomorrow.

A further amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill announced yesterday includes:

* A total ban on the tail docking of dogs. Having listened to the scientific and veterinary evidence given to Committee during Stage 1, the Executive has been persuaded that there is no case to allow an exemption for the tail docking of working dogs.

* An increase in the maximum penalty for the worst cases of animal abuse. The Executive will bring forward an amendment to increase the penalties for animal cruelty from a fine of£5,000 and/ or 6 months imprisonment to a fine of£20,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.

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