In the UK, prosecutions for criminal acts of abuse and neglect against animals are brought under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This is a very elegant and well drafted Act. There are two outstanding statistics in respect of animal abuse in the UK 2013:
- Successful prosecutions (convictions) under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 were far higher for dogs than cats. I have to deduce from the figures that this is because dogs are abused more than cats in the UK. However, cats are second behind dogs in the list.
- The number of prosecutions has risen steadily across the board.
Number of Convictions under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 per Animal (selected)
Why the 33% increase in abuse cases?
The indication is that it is about money – the lack of it. It could be argued that the bankers have the blood of animals on their hands. The decline in animal welfare appears to be directly linked to the financial crisis that has gripped most Western countries for the past five years.
The fact is that when the family budget becomes tight, animals, the most vulnerable in our society, face the consequences more than any other creature. The financial problem is passed down to the animals. This is human nature. It has to be said that if people budgeted properly in respect of caring for animals and factored in hard times there would not have been an increase in animal abuse cases as we have seen.
There is still a lot of unrealistic budgeting taking place concerning animal maintenance and care. People should budget about £10,000 over the lifetime of a cat. That is probably on the high side but people should be realistic.
Money aside, education is vital to improve animal welfare. Some of the things that people get up to is astonishing. Even veterinarians abuse animals sometimes. One conviction was against a 53 year old vet in Berkshire who was struck of for causing unnecessary suffering to a cat (Gus) and two dogs. He performed an operation on the cat’s broken leg. He inserted a metal rod improperly. After being at the vet’s clinic for 7 weeks the police were called in to collect Gus. His leg was subsequently amputated.