Cruelty to animals deserves tough punishment

Claire Fryer

People of the West Coast and throughout New Zealand are rightly appalled at the light sentence handed out in the case of the Karamea farmer who broke the tails of 210 cows, or almost half of the cows on the property.

Inspectors found that 20 cows had multiple breaks and 15 had “fresh” breaks that had occurred within three months. None of the cows had received any treatment for this abuse.

The sentence, a $15,000 fine and a prohibition from milking cows for six months, does not in any way reflect the seriousness of this crime.

Slap on the wrist

Penalties for cases of cruelty and neglect are rarely imposed to the full extent of the law – under the New Zealand law, the maximum penalty for willful ill-treatment is five years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals or $500,000 for a company.

At the very least, cases of serious neglect should lead to a lifetime ban on the offender having animals.

People who hurt animals are just getting warmed up. The link between cruelty to animals and other violent crimes is recognised by the FBI, which has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers. Psychiatrists list cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion in the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for conduct disorders.

Humans next

Numerous studies show that people who harm animals often move on to harm fellow humans. For example, one U.S. study found that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. Another study, in Australia, revealed that 100 percent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.

Cruelty to animals is a serious crime that must be treated as such by the courts.

If you suspect someone of abusing an animal, report it to authorities right away for the safety of the entire community.

Claire Fryer is Campaigns Coordinator of PETA, Australia.

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