New sting in tail of an­i­mal cru­elty laws

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

THE max­i­mum penalty for se­ri­ous an­i­mal cru­elty will be tripled in Queens­land fol­low­ing a spate of at­tacks.

The state’s crim­i­nal code will be amended to cre­ate a new se­ri­ous an­i­mal cru­elty of­fence car­ry­ing a max­i­mum seven years’ jail, in­creas­ing the penalty from the cur­rent max­i­mum of two years’ im­pris­on­ment, Premier Anna Bligh said yes­ter­day.

Ms Bligh said the move stemmed from re­cent cases of shock­ing cru­elty, in­clud- ing the shoot­ing of baby koala Frodo with an air ri­fle and Sticky the puppy, whose eyes were glued shut.

‘‘ The mes­sage is clear,’’ she told re­porters.

‘‘ Peo­ple in this com­mu­nity care about an­i­mals and they don’t want to see sick­en­ing acts of cru­elty.’’

At­tor­ney -Gen­eral Paul Lu­cas said the An­i­mal Care and Pro­tec­tion Act did not deal with wildlife, or pets or farm an­i­mals whose suf­feri ng was i nflicted by an owner.

The new laws will plug those gaps, mak­ing it an of­fence to de­lib­er­ately harm wildlife and strength­en­ing laws against peo­ple who in­flict pain on their own an­i­mals, Mr Lu­cas said.

Stray an­i­mals will also be pro­tected, while live­stock is al­ready pro­tected un­der sim­i­lar laws, he said.

Ms Bligh said the laws were also about pro­tect­ing peo­ple.

‘‘ We know, from world­wide re­search, that there’s very good ev­i­dence to sug­gest that peo­ple who go on in later life to be cruel to hu­mans – to mur­der, to se­ri­ously as­sault peo­ple – have of­ten had a his­tory of cru­elty to an­i­mals,’’ she said.

‘‘ So stamp­ing this sort of prac­tice out is a very im­por­tant part of keep­ing the whole com­mu­nity safe.’’

RSPCA Queens­land con­grat­u­lated the gov­ern­ment on its plan.

‘‘ Once again it shows that this gov­ern­ment is tak­ing the is­sue of an­i­mal cru­elty se­ri­ously and is pre­pared to lis­ten to com­mu­nity feed­back,’’ said RSPCA Qld CEO Mark Townsend.

‘‘ The links be­tween an­i­mal cru­elty and other forms of vi­o­lence and abuse are well recog­nised now and it’s time that the sen­tences handed down by the courts re­flected this.

‘‘ An­i­mal cru­elty is of­ten a pre­cur­sor to even greater vi­o­lence and that surely is a concern for all.’’

Mr Townsend said some t ech­ni­cal­i­ties re­lat­ing t o pros­e­cu­tion un­der the laws still need to be worked out.

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