We’re not laughing: Comedians join Battersea to call for stronger animal cruelty sentencing

26 JUNE 2017

Did you hear the one about the animal abuser who tortured and killed a dog, only to receive less than six months in prison? It sounds like a bad joke - and it is. Some of the UK's most beloved comedians are joining forces with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to tell the world that the six-month maximum sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales is so bad, it's laughable.

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Paul O'Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracey Ullman are all standing up for the animals as they back Battersea's campaign for the maximum sentence for the most severe animal cruelty offences to be increased to five years. They’re urging their fans to pass on the message and join the 33,978 people who have so far pledged their support and emailed their MP to call for tougher punishment.

Six months in prison is nowhere near long enough

Our Ambassador and the face of its award-winning TV show For the Love of Dogs, Paul O’Grady, said: “There's nothing like looking into an animal's eyes to see how innocent and trusting they are, and it makes me angry to see the way some people mistreat and abuse them. I can't stand by and watch while those responsible for the most terrible suffering are unlikely to get more than a few weeks in prison. What's to stop them doing it again?”

Ricky Gervais added: “It’s sickening to hear about innocent dogs and cats enduring terrible suffering at the hands of humans and knowing the law does nothing to protect them, or deter people from committing these acts of cruelty. Six months in prison is nowhere near long enough for people who choose to abuse, torture and kill animals. You could get more for fly-tipping.”

Lowest in the whole of Europe

We launched our campaign at Westminster in February, publishing research that revealed England and Wales’ current six-month maximum prison sentence is the lowest sentence for animal cruelty across the whole of Europe, the United States and Australia.

In comparison, the maximum sentence for commercial fly-tipping is five years in prison. In March this year, a Devon fly-tipper was sentenced to 20 months, while just weeks later a Wirral man who admitted stabbing and burning a dog alive was jailed for just 24 weeks.

Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton said: “No one knows how to tell a joke better than comedians like Paul, Ricky, Sue, Tracey and Harry, and we’re so pleased they’re standing up and declaring to the world that animal cruelty sentencing is not funny, and deserves proper sentences that reflect the dreadful crimes they are. Battersea’s campaign has already begun to make its mark and we won’t stop using our voice for animals who have nobody else to speak out for them. We look forward to working with the new Government to make this happen. Join us and show your support by emailing your MP to call for change.”

Paul, Ricky, Sue, Harry and Tracey are the faces of the campaign and fans will see posters featuring their images on billboards, posters and digital screens at more than 170 locations across the UK and London’s transport network as well as social media.


Animal cruelty sentences are a joke

The maximum sentence for animal cruelty is six months in prison. Help increase this to five years.

Stand up for the animals