Battersea comments on 7 months jail for Ayrshire dog cruelty case: Five-year sentences can’t come soon enough

29 AUGUST 2017

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is appealing to Scots today to back its call for tougher sentences for horrific cases of animal abuse and cruelty, after an Ayrshire dog home director is jailed for just seven months for what the Sheriff describes as offences of the “utmost gravity”.

Zara Brown’s sentence today (29 August) comes after she admitted carrying out a catalogue of neglect and abuse against dogs in her care at the Ayrshire Ark rescue centre. Shockingly, this included the discovery of seven dead dogs and a dead cat, alongside other animals who had suffered unspeakable pain and squalor, languishing in their own waste.

The Sheriff’s verdict comes just 48 hours after Battersea launched its campaign in Scotland calling for the nation’s inadequate 12-month maximum sentence for such cruelty to be raised to five years, in line with many other countries.

Battersea Director Dee McIntosh said: “Serious abuse cases like this in Ayrshire are so shocking and Battersea is horrified by the harrowing detail that has been released today. Rescue centres should exist to provide love, care, and hope to homeless and abandoned animals that find themselves in need of temporary shelter.

"Today’s seven-month prison sentence highlights the problem we have with the current Scottish legislation, as no Scottish court has the power to give out anything more than 12 months, which is appalling. Had this woman been convicted of fly tipping, she could have been jailed for up to five years. Instead, she has escaped with just a few months in prison."

Battersea revealed in a report this week that Scotland’s 12-month maximum sentence is one of the lowest in Europe.

The charity’s leading dog law expert Trevor Cooper added: “Animal cruelty doesn’t take any notice of national boundaries.  Had this offender lived in Northern Ireland she could have faced up to five years in prison. We need to give the Scottish Courts the power to make the punishment fit the crime with a maximum prison sentence of up to five years.”

Battersea is appealing for animal-loving Scots to ask their MSPs to back their call for five-year maximum sentences. Dee McIntosh continued: " Animals have no voice of their own, so we must all speak for them. Battersea hopes the Scottish public and MSPs of all political parties will get behind our campaign for much tougher sentences.”

To email their MSPs, Scots just need to visit

Battersea’s report, Sentencing for Animal Cruelty in Scotland, can be found here.



For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9332 or email


Notes to Editors


  • Visit or use the hashtag #NotFunny on Twitter to follow the campaign
  • Battersea launched a campaign to increase the six-month maximum sentence in England and Wales to five years in February. So far, more than 57,000 people have signed up to back it and 88 MPs have pledged their support.
  • The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 is just 12 months in Scotland, compared to two years in France, three years in Germany and five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • From 2011 to 2016, 522 people were convicted of animal cruelty offences under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
  • Top comedians Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracey Ullman are all backing Battersea’s campaign
  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society. 
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2016 the Home cared for over 7000 dogs and cats.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There are over 160,000 charities in the UK and according to YouGov, Battersea is amongst the top ten best known.
  • Battersea’s award-winning programme Paul O’Grady For the Love of Dogs is broadcast on STV. Now in its sixth year, the family favourite enjoyed 45 million viewers in 2016.