A year on from a serious attack that lead to a horse being put down, fresh calls are being made for tougher sentences to be introduced for animal abuse. H&H finds out more...
A HORRIFIC attack on a horse has highlighted discrepancies in the law, and the need for tougher sentences for animal abuse.
Owner Tracy Grantham is calling for a specific law for attacks on animals, after her 17-year-old mare Sindy was put down on 29 October 2019 owing to injuries sustained when she was targeted in her field by an intruder.
Sindy’s rug had been removed and her injuries included an 11-inch long slash and a six-inch deep wound to her shoulder, believed to have been caused by a knife. Although Suffolk Police investigated the incident, no one was caught.
Tracy has launched a petition for “Sindy’s law” a year on from the incident, as police told her if anyone was caught, they would be charged with criminal damage.
The law states that an animal may be classed as property, under the Criminal Damage Act, and a charge of criminal damage may be appropriate in the event of the death or injury of an animal – with a maximum sentence available of 10 years’ imprisonment in England and Wales.
Offenders may also be prosecuted under section four (unnecessary suffering) of the Animal Welfare Act, but at present, this only carries a maximum sentence of six months. In Scotland, this was increased to five years in jail on 21 July.
“The law is confusing and it’s not clear. There is Finn’s Law for service animals; it’s black and white, and I believe there should be something similar for when someone actively and deliberately harms and kills other peoples’ animals,” Tracy told H&H.
“It won’t bring Sindy back, but we’re trying to be proactive and want Sindy to be remembered.”
The RSPCA has campaigned alongside other welfare organisations including World Horse Welfare, for the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill which would increase the maximum sentence for offences under the Animal Welfare Act to five years.
The second reading of the Bill at parliament, which has cross-party support but has been postponed a number of times, is scheduled for 23 October.
“This bill has not yet become law. Our rescue teams see heartbreaking acts of animal cruelty every day, cases such as the one involving this poor horse, and we feel increased sentences would act as a proper deterrent,” said an RSPCA spokesman.
Roly Owers, chief executive for World Horse Welfare, told H&H that what happened to Sindy is a “truly horrific case”.
“It is totally understandable that the owner wants to help prevent another horse suffering such outrageous abuse,” he said.
“We believe the Animal Welfare Act is a very good piece of legislation but currently only has a maximum prison sentence of six months, which is clearly not proportionate to the horrendous crime inflicted on Sindy.
“This is why it is so important for the Government to see through their commitment to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales to five years.”
H&H 8 October 2020
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