THE public have been urged to share their views on proposals to introduce licensing for animal businesses such as dog walkers, groomers and canine fertility services.

The Scottish Government says its proposed scheme will improve welfare standards in animal care services.

A consultation that launched on Tuesday seeks views on the plans, which would also introduce licences for horse riding establishments and pet accommodation services.

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It is also calling for opinions on greyhound racing, as the future of the sport is being considered by a Holyrood committee.

Gillian Martin, environment minister (pictured below), said: “Scotland is a nation of pet lovers.

“Fortunately, the majority of people working in the animal care sector are incredibly passionate about caring for animals and already operate to high standards of animal welfare.

“But sadly there are still some businesses which fall short when it comes to putting animal welfare first.

The National:

“With greater regulation of the sector, we can give more confidence to people that are interacting and buying services from animal care service providers that these businesses are operating to the highest possible welfare standards.

“However, we must also strike a balance with any proposed regulation – to ensure those already operating to a high standard aren’t unduly affected.

“That is why we are consulting and I encourage organisations, businesses and the public to make their views known.”

The consultation sets out that if a licensing scheme is brought in, a fee could be charged for the application as well as when the licence is granted.

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Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said some canine fertility clinics are run by untrained people who have caused harm to dogs.

He said: “At the moment, there are many animal-related vocations that are completely unregulated.

“We have sadly encountered cases where suffering has been caused in these industries due to negligence or lack of knowledge.

“Licensing these activities will help to safeguard animals and people when using these services.”

The National: Greyhound racing is dangerous for the dogs involvedGreyhound racing is dangerous for the dogs involved

Mark Ruskell, Scottish Greens MSP, has been at the forefront of the campaign to phase out greyhound racing.

Figures from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain show that hundreds of dogs die in the UK each year as a result of their participation in the dangerous sport.

Currently, Scotland only has one active greyhound racing course, the Thornton Greyhound Stadium, in the Mid Scotland and Fife region Ruskell represents.

“I am glad that the Scottish Government is looking at the conditions of greyhound racing,” he said.

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"It is testament to the vital work done by campaigners to put the issue firmly on the agenda.

“This cruel gambling-led industry has been allowed to continue for too long. I hope that as many people as possible take the time to fill in the consultation and join the call for greyhound racing to be a thing of the past.

“Racing has a terrible impact on the dogs that are forced to take part. There can be no justification for making dogs risk injury or death by running round a track at top speed.

“We must always put paws over profit and dog safety over the interests of gambling companies. “There is no place for greyhound racing in a modern and progressive Scotland.”