top donate button

New animal welfare legislation working

Wednesday, 6 July, 2011

Over the past week, two animal abusers have received prison sentences of 18 months and banned for 10 years and for life from owning animals.

“The new sentencing structure for the Animal Welfare Act, passed into legislation by unanimous parliamentary vote in July 2010, has already delivered two significant results in the past week” says Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of SPCA New Zealand.

Two cases of extreme animal abuse were heard in courts, the first, a puppy killing in Te Kuiti and yesterday judgement was passed on a case of kitten abuse in Te Awamutu. Both delivered 18 month sentences, surpassing any previous custodial period achieved by at least six months.

She continues: “The SPCA is delighted that judges are using the new sentencing levels to advantage and giving a real sense of justice to animal cruelty cases. It is credit to MP Simon Bridges and Minister David Carter that they achieved this change in legislation so quickly and to such good effect. They should be extremely satisfied with these early results.”

Last week saw the prosecution of a man who had beaten a 6-month old puppy to death with a golf club because, as his owner said, ‘the dog bit the hand that fed him’. This was a prolonged and particularly brutal act of cruelty, which resulted in the Te Kuiti man being sentenced to 18 months jail for willful ill-treatment of an animal, and he was banned for life from owning another dog.

On Tuesday a second case was heard in the Waikato. This involved a 12 week old kitten that was beaten and burned to death in Te Awamutu in front of the owner’s daughter and 5 year-old granddaughter. The judge presiding over the case said it was the cruelest act imaginable. The offender has a lengthy criminal history for violent offending, and has been sentenced to 18 months jail and banned from owning an animal for ten years.

In July 2010 the amendment to the 1999 Animal Welfare Act was passed into law by unanimous vote, increasing sentencing from 3 to 5 years custodial term for an act of wilful cruelty that resulted in the death with suffering or permanent disability of an animal. The maximum penalty achieved for animal cruelty under the original Act was 12 months custodial sentence delivered in 2009 to Jeffrey Hurring for the killing of the Jack Russell dog, Diesel. This sentence was later appealed and reduced to 10 months.

“The fact that small children witnessed the death of their family pet in this latest case is especially disturbing. The psychological damage that this would do is immeasurable and unforgivable. Acts of this sort are amongst the worst forms of domestic violence.” Robyn Kippenberger says. “The link between animal abuse and human violence is well researched and undeniable. These sentences give a much more realistic message to society – that animal cruelty matters and will not be tolerated.”

The SPCA applauds these sentences and hopes they will act as a benchmark for future cases of extreme animal abuse.