Chair appointed for Animal Welfare Commission

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Professor Cathy Dwyer will head up the new body. 

24th September 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

A wildlife charity has welcomed the announcement of the chair of Scotland’s first ever independent Animal Welfare Commission.

Cathy Dwyer, professor of animal behaviour and welfare at Scotland’s Rural College, will head up the commission, which will look at the impact of devolved policy on the welfare of sentient animals and recommend legislation to ensure high welfare standards.

Professor Dwyer, who has 25 years of experience in research and education, said she was “deeply honoured” to accept the post.

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government recognise the importance of animal welfare for wildlife, farmed and companion animals and that acceptance of animal sentience will be central to government policy relating to animals,” she added.

Animal welfare charity OneKind is among the organisations who have lobbied for the commission.

Director Bob Elliot said: “We are delighted to see Scottish Government deliver on the commitment to create an independent body with a focus on the welfare of all animals in Scotland. This is not only a first in Scotland, it is a first in the UK and has the potential to raise our standards and set a shining example for other administrations.

“We particularly welcome the recognition of the welfare needs of sentient animals in the proposed remit for the commission. This is something that OneKind has lobbied for and it is so positive that the Scottish Government is listening to stakeholders.”

Following the appointment of Professor Dwyer, 11 commissioners will be recruited to sit on the commission in an individual capacity, and not as representatives of particular groups or organisations.

Rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said: “Animal welfare is a subject that I feel very passionately about so I’m delighted to announce Professor Dwyer as the first chair of the independent Scottish Animal Welfare Commission who will bring a depth of expertise and knowledge to the commission.

“I have tasked the commission to look specifically at how our current policies take account of the welfare needs of sentient animals, what improvements could be made and report back to me with their conclusions.

“I’m proud of Scotland’s high standards when it comes to animal welfare and believe this step will strengthen those standards even further. I look forward to working with Professor Dwyer to ensure we have the highest standards of welfare for our animals.”