News that the government intend to amend the sentencing for animal cruelty from a maximum of six months to five years was welcomed today by Labour and Co-Operative MP for Redcar Anna Turley.
Anna began campaigning for a change in the law after the horrendous case in her Redcar constituency of Baby the bulldog, who suffered vile abuse at the hands of brothers Andrew and Daniel Frankish. The brothers filmed themselves laughing as they kicked, punched and jumped on Baby and threw her down the stairs. Baby was put down shortly after. The brothers were convicted but received just suspended sentences, an electronic tag and a £300 fine.
A few months later another horrendous case emerged in Redcar where a dog, Scamp, was found buried alive after having a nail hammered into his head. The perpetrators were jailed for just four months.
Working with animal welfare charities such as the RSPCA, Battersea Cats and Dogs home and the Dogs Trust, Anna ran a national campaign which saw hundreds of thousands of people sign a petition to increase the maximum sentence and ignited a national debate.
In February Anna took through her Private Members Bill the Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill which sought to raise the maximum sentence from six months to five years but it was axed by the Conservative Whips.
Reacting to the news Anna said:
“I am really pleased to see the Government finally recognise that the sentencing for animal cruelty is outdated and must be changed. After over a year of campaigning - petitions, debates, meetings with ministers and my private members bill, it’s great to see the pressure has paid off. The case for reform is overwhelming.
“Only one in ten perpetrators of animal cruelty receives a custodial sentence, and the laws haven’t changed since 1911. We are lagging way behind other countries when it comes to the sentences for animal cruelty and if we are truly to consider ourselves a nation of animal lovers then the sentences must be proportionate. There is currently no deterrent and perpetrators are getting away with the most vile and despicable cruelty. What’s more, offenders often go on to abuse humans - domestic violence and animal abuse often go hand in hand.
“We will never know the full extent of the cruelty that goes on behind closed doors or the full scale of the suffering that these silent and defenseless animals endure. But by taking on this change in sentencing, we can show that this kind of cruelty has no place in our society and try to ensure that no animals have to suffer the way Baby and Scamp did.”