New sting in tail of animal cruelty laws
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.