More jail sentences are needed for animal cruelty

editorial image

The local community and I are absolutely disgusted at the cruelty demonstrated by the inhumane beating and drowning of three defenceless animals near Banbridge.

We are horrified that there are individuals who can inflict such cruelty on defenceless animals. What sort of evil mind-set do they have?

Whilst there has been progress in safeguarding animals, more needs to be done. The 2011 Welfare of Animals Act introduced a range of measures, such as the new enforcement powers for action to be taken to prevent cruelty. However, there has been a wholly inadequate number of convictions since the Act’s implementation.

In fact, there is an ongoing perception that perpetrators of these types of crime get away lightly when it comes to punishments from the courts. Recently the Ulster Unionist Party revealed that over the period 2011 – 2015, only 2 of the 201 cases of animal cruelty before the courts had the maximum penalty imposed. This has sadly contributed to some of the sickening scenes of offenders walking free from court and jeering.

We need to see more convictions and more custodial sentences. The DPP has new powers to challenge sentences for undue leniency and it is important that these are fully applied. Those responsible for animal cruelty are committing these crimes because they don’t fear the law. We need to send out a strong clear message that this society won’t stand for it.

The Ulster Unionist Party published an Animal Welfare policy document in April this year. One of its main proposals was to create a central register of people convicted of animal cruelty. This would also greatly improve the information currently collated and stored for those found guilty of inflicting suffering on animals.

Please, I am asking anyone with information regarding the brutal killing of these dogs to report it. If they are capable of doing this to these three dogs then they are capable of doing it to any of our much-loved family pets.

(The Ulster Unionist Party`s policy document on Animal Welfare can be accessed at http://uup.org/our-vision/policies#animal-welfare )

Glenn Barr, Ulster Unionist Councillor for the Banbridge area