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Judges must get serious on animal abuse

Judges must get serious on animal abuse

Green Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley today said there was growing public concern at the light sentences being handed out to people guilty of abusing animals and it was time that judges began to hand out sentences in line with the Animal Welfare Act.

Ms Kedgley cited a Nelson case in which a dog was starved and neglected to the point where it was severely emaciated and had open sores, maggots and skin infections. The dog had to be put down and the owner was fined $123, sentenced to 75 hours community service and banned from owning a dog for 12 months.

It was revealed today that 400 sheep were put down after being found by MAF starving on a South Island station. MAF say the farming practices were not acceptable and are considering prosecution.

"Time and again we are seeing animals abused and neglected to the point where they are better off dead and in many cases simply cannot be saved, yet the offenders are given ridiculously light sentences," said Ms Kedgley.

"These sentences send a message to the community that animal abuse is not a serious concern and we must change this attitude."

Ms Kedgley said people convicted of abusing animals were liable for maximum fines of $25,000 and six months jail under the Animal Welfare Act and it was high time that sentences were more in line with what the law prescribed.

"Judges have the power to deal with people who neglect and abuse animals appropriately and I am at a loss as to why these lenient sentences keep getting handed down. Perhaps judges need some education about animal welfare issues.

"The public want the courts to start treating animal abuse seriously. It is high time the seriousness of these crimes and the pain and misery they cause are appropriately punished and the community sent a clear signal that animal abuse will not be tolerated," said Ms Kedgley.

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