Battersea calls for five-year sentences for animal cruelty in Scotland

27 AUGUST 2017

  • Our new research shows Scotland’s 12-month maximum prison sentence is one of the lowest in Europe
  • Under current laws, offenders in Scotland could get more for dumping litter than they would for torturing or killing an animal
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Let the punishment fit the crime

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is calling on the Scottish public and the nation’s politicians to join our campaign for tougher punishments for the most shocking cases of animal cruelty.

We have been at the heart of companion animal welfare for over 150 years and on 27 August we published new research revealing Scotland's maximum punishments for animal cruelty are alarmingly low compared to the rest of Europe, the United States and Australia.

Only a handful of nations, including England and Wales, have lower sentences, in sharp contrast to Ireland and Northern Ireland, where the maximum sentence is already five years.

Momentum building in Scotland

Battersea is well known in Scotland for championing and supporting vulnerable and unwanted dogs and cats and for our determination to create lasting changes for such animals in our society.

We are seeing signs of a momentum building in Scotland in support of such tougher sentences. We hope more and more animal-loving Scots will get behind our call to persuade MSPs in all Scottish political parties to back a change in the law. Battersea Director, Dee McIntosh said:

“Scots like to see justice be done and play a part in righting some of society’s wrongs. And Battersea believes this can only help to build the momentum to get the law changed in Scotland to five years for animal cruelty. We now need all of Scotland’s politicians to make this change.”

Contact your MSP

We are appealing to Scots to contact their MSPs to call for the 12-month maximum sentence to be increased to five years for the most serious animal cruelty offences, bringing it in line with Ireland and Northern Ireland. Dee McIntosh added:

“Scots may remember the horrific photographs of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier tied to a piece of concrete and left to drown in a Lanarkshire pond in 2015.

“Nobody was convicted of that dreadful offence and even if they had been, is it right that they would have received less time in prison for drowning that poor dog than for dumping commercial litter? It would be laughable if it wasn’t so shocking.”

Eight month for torturing his pet cat

Our research has highlighted other compelling examples of animal cruelty, including a man who admitted torturing his pet cat to death in Fife last year. Filmed beating and biting the animal, he was sentenced to just eight months in prison. The Sheriff called his actions "disgraceful" and said he wanted to impose the maximum 12-month sentence but the offender's guilty plea forced him to reduce it. Dee McIntosh continued:

"Terrible cases like these show that the Scottish courts are doing their best to hand down the toughest sentences they can but the powers currently available to them make it impossible for the punishment to fit the crime.

“Battersea believes it’s time for a change north and south of the border. We’ve been campaigning for a five-year sentence in England and Wales, where courts can only give an offender six months in prison. Scotland has an impressive track record of changing its laws on key issues ahead of some other nation, so let’s ask all MSPs to do that for animal cruelty as well.”

Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden and Deputy Convenor of the Justice Committee, is one of the politicians supporting the call for tougher animal cruelty sentences. She said:

"I am very much in favour of exploring opportunities to increase the sentencing for those charged with crimes of cruelty to animals.  We need to send out a strong message that these vile crimes against defenceless animals are unacceptable, and we need to put it into perspective of all types of violent crime.”

Email your MSP today to ask them to support five-year sentences for animal cruelty.

Download our report on Sentencing for Animal Cruelty in Scotland.

Animal cruelty sentences are a joke

In Scotland the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is one year in prison. Help increase this to five years.

Stand up for the animals