SSPCA demands five years in jail for worst cases of animal cruelty

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Animals charity the SSPCA wants to tackle “hugely inconsistent” sentences for abusers by increasing the maximum penalty to five years in jail.

The organisation is strongly urging the Scottish Government to consider both tougher penalties and more logical sentencing for “those who commit horrendous acts of animal cruelty”.

This week it asked for the public’s help in making its case, aiming to persuade people to write to their MSP supporting the SSPCA argument.

A spokesperson said: “From receiving small three year bans from owning animals, to £180 fines and community service, it is our belief that these sentences should act as a deterrent to potential criminals.

“We accept that any sentence is always at the discretion of the sheriff, however increasing the maximum jail sentence from 12 months to five years will give sheriffs far great options.

“Jail time is not always the answer and we understand the benefit of bans and community service.

“However the potential of a five year custodial sentence will act as a larger deterrent than the current 12 month maximum.”

The SSPCA says an increase in the number of lifetime bans being given would strengthen the message that owning animals should be a privilege and not a right, commenting: “Currently there are inconsistencies with the length of ban animal abusers are given, if any.”

The SSPCA has a unique role among animal welfare organisations, as it is a reporting agency to the Crown Office.

This means its inspectors are authorised to enforce the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

Last year SSPCA actions led to 33 bans on keeping animals, including five life bans, 25 fines (totalling £12,500), three jail sentences and 13 Community Payback Orders.

The charity’s spokesperson said: “We are determined to seek justice for animals that have been abused, abandoned and neglected. Please help us get there.”