Scottish Labour believe everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable, should have the opportunity to access the wellbeing benefits that pets can provide. As such, their Green Paper, Paws Clause, has been developed to identify a number of potential policies which would help people in Scotland to keep their pets with them more easily.
We were delighted to be invited by Claudia Beamish (Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Environment, Climate Change, and Land Reform) to submit a formal response to this Green Paper to show our support and help influence the formal process for policy decision making within the party.
The Society of Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) has advocated positive pets in housing policies since it was founded in Dundee in 1979 and, throughout the past 40 years, has sought to change attitudes and practice to pets in housing. Our recent ‘Pets in Housing: Promoting Health and Wellbeing’ conference held in March 2018, being just one example of this; others include research, publications, best practice guidelines, holding strategy meetings with other charities and housing providers and via media such as TV, radio and newspapers.
It is clear that current practices regarding pets, people and accommodation in the UK does not reflect published scientific evidence pertaining to human-animal interactions. Our country has not kept pace with progress being made overseas. Many people in the UK, especially those most vulnerable and those living in rental accommodation are being denied the opportunity to have an animal companion. This discrimination has a detrimental effect on health, on child development and the right to have a family life.
Given the experience of SCAS in the UK and of our colleagues overseas in failing to effect voluntary change through educative efforts, we strongly recommend the introduction of legislation to enact for positive policies across all housing types. Scotland are leading the way in the UK and we are very happy to support them through sharing our expertise and resources.