A NEW Member’s Bill has been proposed in Holyrood to deter the unlicensed breeding, selling and giving away of dogs, following concerns over their abandonment acquired during the pandemic.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame has launched the Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill, which hopes to establish greater responsibility among those considering puppy or dog ownership, as reports indicate many so-called Covid puppies are being abandoned as people return to work in the wake of eased restrictions.

Commenting on the Bill – which was first proposed in the last parliamentary session, but fell due to lack of time - Grahame said: “I am pleased to be proposing this Bill again as it is possibly even more important now than it was before the pandemic.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of people acquire dogs, and whilst many of these animals have become much loved family pets, some people rushed into this decision without thinking about how they would care for the dogs in the long term and the extent of the commitment.”

Grahame added that the surge in demand has led to a rise in illegal puppy farms and unscrupulous breeders, who “have absolutely no interest in animal welfare and both the breeding dogs and the pups are kept in appalling conditions, producing animals with a range of health and behavioural issues.

“Unfortunately for as long as people buy from these places this horrible cruel trade will continue to thrive. We can cut off demand by ensuring in law that people must consider whether they have the lifestyle, commitment and resources to look after their pet throughout its life, to know where the puppy is coming from and to see it with its mother and siblings unless it is from an authorised rehoming centre.”

According to the Scottish SPCA, 2021 saw over 1000 calls made to their animal helpline regarding low-welfare animal breeding – a 34% increase compared to 2020 – as well as 522 investigations launched into puppy dealing and 22 into puppy farming.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn also commented: “We are pleased that the Bill has again been proposed and fully support it.

“Enforcing legislation around getting a dog will help ensure they have a long, happy life in the right home with the care they need.

“If the proposed law is introduced, it will help deter the low-welfare puppy trade and be a real positive for dog welfare in Scotland.”