Battersea welcomes Scottish Government plans for tougher animal cruelty sentences
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home warmly welcomes today’s news that the Scottish Government is seeking to toughen up on punishments for animal abusers – just weeks after the charity launched its Scottish campaign for five-year sentences.
As part of its plans for this next Parliamentary year, the Scottish Government today delighted Scotland’s animal welfare supporters by announcing it is introducing a Bill to increase the maximum prison sentence for serious abuse cases to five years.
Last month, Battersea published research revealing the current 12-month sentence in Scotland is amongst the lowest across the whole of Europe, with only five other areas - including England and Wales - having lower sentences for animal cruelty.
Battersea's Chief Executive, Claire Horton, said: "Battersea is thrilled by this news from the Scottish Government, as a five-year deterrent in Scotland could go a long way to help many animals that are the innocent victims of unacceptable cruelty.
“When we launched our campaign in Scotland last month, there was a momentum building amongst Scots in favour of tougher sentences and today’s news proves the Government is listening. They recognise 12 months is simply not enough for some of the horrific cases of animal cruelty that come through the Courts, nor does it deter other would-be animal abusers.
Claire Horton continued: "There’s still a way to go before the Scottish Government’s bold announcement today becomes law, as it needs support from the other Holyrood parties.
“A five-year sentence means courts have the power to appropriately punish the most shocking offences of animal cruelty. Battersea is urging animal lovers to respond to this call for action and contact their MSPs, to make it abundantly clear to all politicians that the Scottish public want to see five-year sentences become a reality. We commend the Scottish Government for their announcement today and Battersea is willing to help in any way we can to make this change happen.”
Claire Horton added that the Scottish Government’s announcement could have important implications for England and Wales, where the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is just six months.
She added: “Battersea is calling for tougher cruelty sentences north and south of the border. So, with Scotland now wanting to bring in five-year sentences, I sincerely hope this will make England and Wales now move to follow suit.”
For more information or to email your MSP to urge them to bring the Scottish Government's plans to fruition, visit www.battersea.org.uk/NotFunny.
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Notes to Editors
• Visit www.battersea.org.uk/NotFunny 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.