A few months ago, along with my work team, I volunteered at RSPCA animals shelter in Godstone, UK. It’s a shelter for not only cats and dogs but also rabbits, ferrets, hamsters and birds that suffered from animal cruelty and neglect. Some of the stories we’ve been told made my heart break. All I could think about at the time is that I hope the abusers get the punishment they deserve. A few days ago, it came to my knowledge that punishments for animal abuse in the UK are the lowest in Europe as the highest penalty is 6 months of imprisonment. How is 6 months of prison a suitable penalty for beating up a dog or treating it so bad it ends up passing away? There were so many cases were even children were setting cats on fire or chaining a dog to a moving car. After all, why wouldn’t they. The consequences they would have to face are minimal.
Volunteers and employees of animal welfare foundations go through a lot paper work and put in a lot of effort to ensure that abused animals are rescued and for abusers to be prosecuted. Sometimes the paper work and prosecution process take more time than the actual sentence.
Because of such a long process, rescued animals stay in shelters more than necessary until the process is over.
Not only have the animals been put through physical and psychological pain but were forced to live in a shelter, in tiled or outdoor cubicles. As much as shelter volunteers try to show them love and kindness, nothing can replace a loving home.
Animal Welfare Act 2006 aka what is animal abuse
Animal Welfare Act established in 2006 aims to provide regulations for pet owners and those responsible for domestic animals such as breeders. As a matter of fact, enforcement agencies can educate owners to prevent pets from suffering. If animal’s needs are not met, the owner can be given a formal warning or be prosecuted.
The 5 animal welfare needs that have be met are:
- suitable diet
- suitable environment
- ability to perform normal and natural behavior patterns
- separation or housing with other animals
- protection from pain, disease, injury and suffering (including mental).
The maximum penalty for the most serious crimes can be a fine for £20 000 or imprisonment. Most often the offender will be given a suspended sentence which means they might not end up in prison at all. As a matter of fact, animal abusers rarely face any consequences.
What happens in reality
The above guides are basic animal welfare needs an animal should be satisfied with but there a real life examples of horrific animal mistreat.
As reported to and by RSPCA, 4 youths abducted a chihuahua, kicked and punched it, broke its bones, fed him drugs, set him on fire and abandoned in a garbage bin. The punishment they have been given is the disqualification from owning pets for 5 years.
Do you think this an adequate penalty? The dog has been mentally scarred for its whole life and miraculously stayed alive!
On average every 30 seconds someone in the UK and Wales calls the RSPCA cruelty line. In 2015 they received over a million phone calls.
Over 50% of the animal abuse victims in UK are dogs.
When scrolling through the list of dogs available for adoption at Battersea cats and dogs home, I noticed a campaign ran by them which is how I found about these appalling regulations.
Battersea are running a campaign where you can sign a letter to your MP in which we request the maximum sentence to be increased from pitiful 6 months to 5 years. This it to affect laws in England and Wales.
I have already signed, please sign too. Sign letter to your MP here. We need to gather 5500 more signatures.
What to do when you see animal cruelty?
If you ever witness animal abuse, you may call the police as an emergency. Although you may want to intervene immediately, remember to think and act rationally. We don’t want the abuser to run away. Despite the abuse a dog may get, it will most often stay loyal to its owner. As much as you might want to get aggressive with the abuser, the dog will try to protect him. Call the police or emergency number ASAP- 999 or 112
Call RSPCA 24h cruelty line – 0300 1234 999
When you report cruelty to RSPCA do your best to provide as much evidence and information as possible. Not only will these help in inspecting the case and rescuing the animal, but might be very beneficial in the prosecution process.
League against cruel sports fights against sports that are a threat to animals. If you know of any dog fights, wildlife hunting or snare traps, please report them using the following animal crime watch page: Report animal sport crime