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The Scottish SPCA has welcomed the Scottish Government's proposals to increase the maximum prison sentence from 12 months to five years.
As a reporting agency to the Crown Office we are proud of the accomplishments we have made bringing successful convictions against those who commit animal cruelty. However, whilst we have seen 74 successful cases in 2016, the sentences being handed out are hugely inconsistent.
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 therefore strongly urge the Scottish Government to consider more consistent and tougher penalties for those who commit horrendous acts of animal cruelty.
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.
An increase in the number of lifetime bans being given would also be welcomed as we believe owning animals should be a privilege and not a right. Currently there are inconsistencies with the length of ban animal abusers are given, if any.
We want to bring animal cruelty to an end and this change will help make that possible.
We are unique among animal welfare organisations and charities in the UK in being a reporting agency to the Crown Office. This means that our inspectors are authorised to enforce the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
We are determined to seek justice for animals that have been abused, abandoned and neglected. Please help us get there.