“Animal lovers will be horrified to learn that animal cruelty is one of the many offences treated extremely leniently by our courts.”-Peter Cuthbertson, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention.
They looked at 13,862 cases where the defendant was found guilty of animal cruelty in England and Wales during the period 2005 to 2015. More than 92% were not sent to prison. Only a little over 1000 received a prison sentence.
About one third of those convicted of animal cruelty received a community service order. Around a quarter were punished with a fine.
I think the report gets the current law incorrect. As I understand the law the current maximum is a 51 week prison sentence together with a maximum fine of £20,000. The report quotes a maximum prison sentence of six months. I think that applies to crimes that took place before the law was amended.
Nonetheless, there are calls to increase the maximum prison sentence to 5 years and certain states in the USA. This would bring it in line with Northern Ireland.
The RSPCA agree. Their interim chief executive, Michael Ward said:
“…..only a tiny proportion of animal abusers actually receive an immediate custodial sentence.”
The current Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, is looking at the situation. He believes that the perpetrators of the very worst examples of animal cruelty should be punished more severely.
My reading of the situation in the USA is that it is somewhat similar. In that country the law is decided upon state-by-state. The laws in America are very similar to those in the UK. As I recall, the worst examples of animal cruelty are treated as felonies and are therefore punished with several years imprisonment which is more severe than currently in the UK.
It is not just about punishing those convicted. There needs to be a sharpening up of investigations into animal cruelty and a stronger commitment to enforcing the law. This is the job of the police. Then the prosecution services also have a duty to ensure that those charged are adequately prosecuted. As for the law itself, that is in the hands of the lawmakers, the politicians. Historically they operate too slowly. Politicians should also enact a law which creates an animal abuser register. We can them track them.
An American Case of Extreme Cat Cruelty Going Underpunished
Coincidentally, today, there is a report about an extreme case of cat abuse by a man, Tyrike Richardson, 21, of Staten Island.
He mercilessly tortured a cat on June 29. Chester, the cat received multiple blunt force trauma injuries, fractured ribs, head trauma and a collapsed lung. To compound the horrific behaviour of this man, he broadcast the whole thing live on Facebook in a 32 minute video. He was charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal.
Alley Cat Allies tell us that the maximum sentence will be two-years in prison. That is the law of New York apparently. A lot of people would judge that to be too lenient although of course they are thankful that he was charged and convicted. Of course having published his horrific behaviour on Facebook it was impossible for the police to not charge him because the evidence was all over the Internet. Sadly, we do not know what happened to the cat but he was almost certainly euthanised if he survived the beating.