Scalded dog cruelty case sentence shows the need for five-year sentences in Scotland

  • Posted on September 25, 2017

A Dundee man has been jailed for less than five months for pouring boiling water over his pet dog – a day after MSPs from all Scottish political parties publicly backed our campaign for stronger sentences for horrific cases of animal abuse and cruelty.

Stewart Milne was sentenced at Dundee Sheriff Court on 21 September to 145 days in jail after he admitted spilling boiling water over his dog Buddy’s neck and failing to seek veterinary help. The Scottish SPCA took Buddy into their expert care and tried to treat him but by then he had developed an infection and later died of his injuries.

Milne was also jailed for possession of a knife and other offences, bringing his total prison sentence to 320 days. The maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in Scotland is currently 12 months in prison. The Scottish Government announced earlier this month that they were planning to increase the maximum sentence to five years in prison.

The verdict came just 24 hours after Battersea was joined by 20 MSPs and other animal charities, including the SSPCA and Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, at the Scottish Parliament, in a call for all politicians to support five-year sentences. The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, was among those in attendance.

Battersea’s leading dog law expert, Trevor Cooper, said:

“The details of Buddy’s suffering are truly harrowing and the fact Milne was only sentenced to 145 days in prison proves that the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in Scotland really is inadequate. The support we received this week from the Cabinet Secretary and MSPs from all Scottish political parties shows this is an issue that Scots feel strongly about. It’s now crucial we get cross-party backing to increase maximum 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. Trevor Cooper continued:

“Battersea will always speak out for animals, who have no voice of their own. We are greatly encouraged by the support we received from MSPs yesterday and would urge all animal lovers in Scotland to contact their MSPs to tell them how important this issue is.”

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.