7 months jail for Ayrshire dog cruelty case: Five-year sentences can’t come soon enough

  • Posted on August 29, 2017

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is appealing to Scots today to back its call for tougher sentences for horrific cases of animal abuse and cruelty, after an Ayrshire dog home director is jailed for just seven months for what the Sheriff describes as offences of the “utmost gravity”.

Zara Brown’s sentence on 29 August comes after she admitted carrying out a catalogue of neglect and abuse against dogs in her care at the Ayrshire Ark rescue centre. Shockingly, this included the discovery of seven dead dogs and a dead cat, alongside other animals who had suffered unspeakable pain and squalor, languishing in their own waste.

The problem with the current Scottish legislation

The Sheriff’s verdict comes just 48 hours after we launched our campaign in Scotland calling for the nation’s inadequate 12-month maximum sentence for such cruelty to be raised to five years, in line with many other countries. Battersea Director Dee McIntosh said:

“Serious abuse cases like this in Ayrshire are so shocking and Battersea is horrified by the harrowing detail that has been released today. Rescue centres should exist to provide love, care, and hope to homeless and abandoned animals that find themselves in need of temporary shelter.

“Today’s seven-month prison sentence highlights the problem we have with the current Scottish legislation, as no Scottish court has the power to give out anything more than 12 months, which is appalling. Had this woman been convicted of fly tipping, she could have been jailed for up to five years. Instead, she has escaped with just a few months in prison.”

Make the punishment fit the crime

We revealed in our report that Scotland’s 12-month maximum sentence is one of the lowest in Europe. Dog law expert Trevor Cooper added:

“Animal cruelty doesn’t take any notice of national boundaries. Had this offender lived in Northern Ireland she could have faced up to five years in prison. We need to give the Scottish Courts the power to make the punishment fit the crime with a maximum prison sentence of up to five years.”

Battersea is appealing for animal-loving Scots to ask their MSPs to back their call for five-year maximum sentences. Dee McIntosh continued:

“Animals have no voice of their own, so we must all speak for them. Battersea hopes the Scottish public and MSPs of all political parties will get behind our campaign for much tougher sentences.”

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.