Battersea calls time on all Scottish political parties to get tough on animal cruelty

  • Posted on September 20, 2017

MSPs will join Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, outside Holyrood today to call for all politicians to support tougher sentences for animal cruelty.

Battersea published new research in August showing how Scotland has among the lowest sentences for animal cruelty in Europe, the United States and Australia. Only a few nations, including England and Wales, have lower sentences, and under current laws offenders in Scotland could get more for dumping litter than they would for torturing or killing an animal.

Momentum building in Scotland

The recent news that the Scottish Government is willing to increase sentences for the worst animal cruelty offences from twelve months to five years is warmly welcomed by Battersea and other animal welfare charities such as the Scottish SPCA, and momentum is building amongst Scots in favour of such tougher sentences.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, said today,

“Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and we take the welfare of our pets, animals and livestock extremely seriously.  Animal cruelty is an emotive issue, which quite rightly causes concern among animal lovers and the general public.

“While sentencing is, of course, a matter for the courts, it is vital that we ensure they have the powers they need to deal with cases of animal cruelty. That is why I was delighted to hear of the warm welcome given by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to our recent commitment in our programme for Government to increase the maximum penalty for the most serious cruelty to animal offences.”

Crucially, the Scottish Government’s commitment will need support from across Parliament if it is to become a reality, which is why MSPs are asked to join Battersea and the Environment Secretary outside Parliament today, to show their cross-party support for five-year animal cruelty sentences.

Nine month sentence for burning a dog to death

Chermaine Letham from Fife has first-hand experience of seeing animal cruelty and today she backed Battersea’s campaign for tougher sentences. Her Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bruno was tortured and burnt to death in a shocking act of cruelty in 2014, yet the perpetrator was sentenced to just nine months in prison.

Chermaine said:

“I know the sentence for animal cruelty in Scotland is far too low. Bruno wasn’t just my dog, he was my baby and he suffered horrifically. What happened to him broke me in half. I never thought I could feel pain like that and it’s made me terrified to get another dog. A nine-month sentence was outrageous, he should have got far longer. I just can’t imagine how anyone could have it in them to do that to an animal.”

Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton said:

“What happened to Chermaine’s pet dog Bruno is shocking in the extreme and perpetrators who commit such acts of cruelty must know they will not be treated leniently in future.

“Battersea is encouraged that the Scottish Government have proposed to increase sentences for such animal cruelty in future, but we now need all parties on board, for this to become a reality. So we’re asking all Scottish politicians to stand up and be that voice for pets that suffer such abuse, by pledging to support five-year sentences for animal cruelty.”

Contact your MSP

Scots can play their part by contacting their own MSPs and calling on them to back an increase to the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years. Today’s Battersea event outside Parliament will also include dogs from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and representatives from other animal welfare partner organisations such as the Scottish SPCA, Cats Protection, Blue Cross and the Kennel Club.

Claire Horton added:

“126 MSPs and MPs have already pledged their support for Battersea’s campaign for tougher sentences. We want to encourage all animal-loving Scots to write to whoever represents them in Parliament and ask them to back our campaign. Every letter or e-mail you send is helping us build more support to have crimes against animals treated with the seriousness that they deserve.”

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.