McArthur writes to SSPCA over rehoming centre closure

12 Oct 2023

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has today written to the CEO of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, highlighting concerns raised by constituents involved in animal welfare in Orkney over the closure of the Balmore rehoming centre in Caithness.

Now that Balmore has been closed, the closest rehoming centre is in Inverness, which is often near or at capacity. As a result, there is the prospect of animals facing trips of several hundred miles to the Central Belt for rehoming, with the risk that this could impact on the willingness of owners to sign over pets to the SSPCA and other relevant bodies.

In his letter, Mr McArthur urged the SSPCA to consult properly with stakeholders in Orkney and the Far North in an effort to identify options that might minimise the animal welfare impact of the decision to close Balmore.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“I understand that the decision to close Balmore will not now be reversed. However, it’s still not too late for the SSPCA to consult properly and widely on all the possible options for minimising the negative effects of this decision on animal welfare in the islands and the Far North.

“As the number of animals being signed over to the SSPCA locally increases, the closure of Balmore could not have come at a worse time. There must now be a real risk that pet owners will be less willing to cooperate with local agencies if their animal faces the prospect of a lengthy journey to the central belt. That would be a real concern.

“A consultation with local vets, animal welfare officers, SSPCA staff and the wider public could identify alternative options to transferring animals south or putting them out to foster homes. That is a prize worth pursuing and I urge the SSPCA to engage with local stakeholders in the interests of animal welfare in the islands.”

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