Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s campaign, Be Their Voice, is calling for tougher sentencing for those convicted of animal cruelty in England, Wales and Scotland.
Currently, sentencing for animal cruelty in England and Wales is the lowest across Europe, the United States and Australia.
The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is six months in England and Wales and 12 months in Scotland. This is compared to two years in France, three years in Germany and five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Battersea would like to see the maximum sentence raised to five years.
“Battersea’s research into extreme animal cruelty tells us the sentences handed out are actually no punishment at all. We and many other rescue centres see shocking cases of cruelty and neglect come through our gates and there are many more that are dumped and don’t even make it off the streets,” said Battersea’s Chief Executive, Claire Horton.
Horton drew attention to cases of extreme animal abuse, including a case in London where one man was convicted of torturing and killing nine puppies.
“It isn’t acceptable that our courts are unable to hand out tougher sentences in such extreme animal cruelty cases, yet the likes of fly-tipping can result in prison sentences of up to five years. So let’s get this into proportion and let the punishment for abusing animals truly fit the crime,” she added.
“A few weeks in prison or walking free from court with a fine isn’t enough, either as a punishment or a deterrent. It’s time to stand up for such animals and bring in tougher sentences.”
Battersea has published a new report to accompany the campaign, called Sentencing for animal cruelty in England and Wales. In addition to calling for the modernisation of the Animal Welfare Act, it finds that serious animal cruelty offenders are a high risk to the community as well as to animals. They are five times more likely to have a violent crime record and animal abuse is 11 times more likely in domestic violence situations.
An animal cruelty sentencing Bill in Parliament has been raised by Anna Turley MP. It will have its second reading in May.
More information on Battersea’s campaign can be found at: notfunny.battersea.org.uk